Kathmandu: UNICEF to launch awareness campaign on swine flu in schools

KATHMANDU: With a view to inform the schoolchildren of the menace of Pandemic Influenza A (H1N1), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Nepal has embarked on an awareness campaign in different schools under the Avian Influenza Project (AIP).

The move follows recent swine flu-scare throughout the nation.

After the initial phase of campaign in Kathmandu Valley schools, UNICEF is launching the awareness campaign in schools of the five districts in Jhapa, Illam, Sunsari, Morang and Chitwan.

Binoy Dil Lama, the project officer, said that the first round of briefing and orientation on the swine flu was concluded recently in 65 schools, including the +2 colleges, of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur.

“The AIP works with ‘Green Plus,” a student organisation, he said, adding, “a meeting would be held next week with the Private and Boarding Schools’ Organisation of Nepal (PABSON) and the Department of Education.

An orientation programme has also been planned for the District Education Officer (DEO) about the issue.

Lama of UNICEF has urged the schools not to close them down on seasonal flu but suggested the government to take sample test and make it conformed before closing the schools.

He said that they had introduced a package programme for addressing the present situation where they had given two hours of training to teachers and students with the objective of bringing awareness.

“Local NGOs are helping us in this project,” added programme officer. The jingle and advertising song related to the disease is going to be on air from December 15.

From HimanayanTimes

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Nepal ministers talk global warming in icy Everest heights

Kathmandu: Nepal’s coalition government on Friday basked in the global limelight with Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal leading a historic meeting of his cabinet in the shadow of Mt Everest, the highest peak in the world, to draw the attention of nations to the perils of climate change.

For the first time in the history of Nepal, nearly two dozen ministers, wearing down jackets, blue sashes that said “Save the Himalayas” and oxygen masks, trooped to Kala Pattar, a village at 5,542 m, more than half-way to the Everest peak, to hold a sensational cabinet meet against a backdrop of towering mountains and thundering winds.

“It is a significant and historic meet,” Nepal said, signing a 10-point Everest Declaration. “The world should unite with the Himalayan nations to raise one voice. Now is the time to stop the negative effects of climate warming. Let’s start with sacrifices from our own countries.”

As its own commitment, Nepal has declared nearly 6,000 sq km in three different regions, rich in bio-diversity, as conserved areas.

It will also stand behind the march of 30 Everest summiters who will stage a rally in Copenhagen on December 11, in the course of the UN global conference on climate changes in the European capital, to ask the world to save the Himalayas.

The bleak plateau, surrounded by snow-clad mountains and bereft of vegetation, became the cynosure of all eyes on Friday as the world waited for Nepal’s government to begin its cabinet meeting near the Everest base camp.

A sign propped up between two national flags declared a cabinet meeting was in session with chairs lined up before narrow long tables.

The meeting, delayed by more than two hours, was preceded by the prime minister and his cabinet colleagues first alighting in Syangboche, a village located below the plateau, for health checks.

Helicopters belonging to the army and private airline companies then ferried the ministers to Kala Pattar where Chief Secretary Madhav Ghimire called the meeting to order, wielding a megaphone to make himself heard.

Though the much-awaited meeting lasted only 10 minutes, experts and travel entrepreneurs said it had succeeded in winning world recognition for Nepal, the Himalayas and the Sherpa community living in the Himalayan region.

The prime minister emphasised that Nepal, one of the least developed nations, was not guilty of carbon emissions that contribute to global warming.

Developed nations, he said, were responsible for the damage worldwide and therefore had a duty to come to the help of the victimised nations.

There are nearly 2,000 mountain lakes in Nepal, which boasts of eight of the 10 highest peaks in the world, including the Everest. Of these 2,000 lakes, 24 are in danger of bursting, experts say.

The global warming has been causing glaciers to retreat in the Himalayas and denuding the majestic peaks of their snow cover, making them look bare and smaller.

“When I climbed Mt Everest in 2007, I was shocked to see how bare it looked. There was little snow,” said Sonam Sherpa.

“If the Himalayas die, all Nepalis will die,” added Doti Sherpa, deputy chief of Nepal Sherpa Sangh. “It will devastate entire South Asia, not just Nepal.”

Inspired by the Maldives government holding a cabinet meeting underwater, Nepal’s Forest Minister Deepak Bohra conceived the idea of an “Everest” meet.

Nepal’s cash-strapped government, accused of frittering away tax payers’ money, spent only Nepali Re.1 though the expedition cost over Rs.6 million.

The entire expenses were borne by the private sector related to travel tourism.

After criticising it as a gimmick, there was grudging public admiration on Friday due to the immense world interest the meeting generated.

Veteran journalist Kanak Mani Dixit welcomed the Everest meet cautiously.

“It is right to capitalise on the Himalayas,” he said. “But to ensure that it is not a mere gimmick, there should be follow-up action.”

Dixit, editor of Himal magazine, said that while the government was drawing attention to the adverse effects of global warming with the Everest meet, forests were being hacked down in Nepal’s Terai plains. IANS

From IndiaEdu

WWF: Stabilised Bhutan lake a climate change lesson

An international project that prevented a glacial lake in Bhutan from bursting its banks underlined how climate change can be tackled by adaptation, the environmental group WWF said on Tuesday.
The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) said efforts by local and international agencies earlier this year reduced the risk of the brimming Thorthormi Tsho lake in the Himalayas flooding a valley.

“The story of Thorthormi lake is shaping up to be a story of successful adaptation to climate change,” Tariq Aziz, who heads WWF’s Living Himalayas Initiative, said in a statement.

“It is also a story of the risks that climate change is building for communities and the costs and complexities of successful adaptation work,” he added.

A breach in the lake, perched at 4,428 metres (14,612 feet) above sea level, would be catastrophic, the environmental group warned.

“The prospect is frightening,” WWF said, recalling a smaller glacial lake burst in the same region in 1994 that left 20 people dead and caused havoc.

The Bhutanese government with the help of the United Nations Development Programme, WWF, an Austrian agency and local volunteers partly drained the lake and lowered its level by 86 centimetres (2.80 feet).

The target is to lower Thorthormi’s level by five metres in three years.

On December 7, world leaders will gather in Copenhagen for a United Nations climate conference that will work to frame a major new deal for tackling global warming and its impacts beyond 2012.

From Space Daily

WWF: Renowned mountaineers to come together to help raise awareness on Climate Change

World renowned mountaineers will come together at Copenhagen on the occasion of International Mountain Day (11 December 2009) to raise awareness on impacts of Climate Change in the Himalayas. Hon’ble Minister of Forest and Soil Conservation Mr. Deepak Bohara unveiled the plans for the Summiteers’ Summit today. Government of Nepal is leading the efforts supported by several partner organizations namely ICIMOD, NTNC, NTB, NMA, the World Bank, WWF. Several other organizations including those working for the Himalayan cause are likely to join the efforts. Business affinity groups like FNCCI, CNI and Bankers’ Association will also be invited to support the event.

Climate Change has hit hard the Himalayas in general and Nepal in particular. Its effects are being manifested in different forms some of them being rapid increase in the size of glacial lakes, erratic monsoon patterns and unprecedented forest fires. Although being one of the least Green House Gas (GHG) emitting countries in the world, Nepal ranks among one of the most vulnerable countries to the impacts of climate change. This fact largely remains unrepresented in the global climate debate so far.

Government of Nepal and agencies concerned with the impacts of Climate Change in the Himalayas, and its knock-on effect on the population of downstream countries have been spearheading substantive efforts to raise this issue at appropriate global platforms. Notable among them is WWF’s Climate for Life campaign and the recent Kathmandu to Copenhagen Regional Climate Change Conference hosted by the Government of Nepal.

Many high profile events have been planned across Europe to build up interest in this important event on International Mountain Day. World renowned mountaineers and public figures who love the Himalayas will come together in Copenhagen to raise awareness of climate risks and opportunities in the Himalayas. A street carnival in the streets of Copenhagen will see hundreds of summiteers and friends of Nepal raising their voice for the Himalayas.  

The Legendary Mountaineers Apa Sherpa and Dawa Steven Sherpa, both of whom have been working tirelessly with WWF’s Climate For Life Campaign for the last several months, will be representing Nepal at the summit and the many preceding activities.

For further information:

Siddhartha Bajracharya, Executive Office, NTNC

T: 5526571  E:  siddhartha@ntnc.org.np

Sanjib Chaudhary, Communications Officer. WWF Nepal

T: 443 4820 E : sanjib.chaudhary@wwfnepal.org

Event Secretariat: NTNC, Jawalakhel, Kathamndu

sssh.nepal@gmail.com

From EverestNews

Illegal Wildlife Trade: Collective political commitment needed, say tiger experts

Equip Interpol to combat illegal trade in wildlife

KATHMANDU: Experts from the tiger range countries have called for a collective political commitment from all levels of the government to save the animals and enhancing the capacity of the Interpol and other international agencies and enforcement networks to combat illegal trade in wildlife.

Apart from the Interpol, the World Customs Organisation (WCO), the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), the CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) Secretariat and regional wildlife enforcement agencies should be authorised to take more effective measures in controlling trafficking, the experts said coming out with a set of recommendations at the end of the four-day Kathmandu Global Tiger Workshop here on Friday.

Majestic beauty: Tiger sightings have increased in the Bandipur National Park. The just-concluded Kathmandu Global Tiger Workshop called for strict protection of the beast and its core breeding areas — Photo: M.A.Sriram

Announcing the plan to celebrate 2010 as year of the tiger globally to create awareness of the critical plight of the animal and enlist broad support for its conservation, the experts gave a clarion call for strict protection of the beast and its core breeding areas. They asked the tiger range countries to stop infrastructure projects in core breeding areas and appealed to financial institutions to avoid financing development projects that adversely affect critical habitats.

They recommended conservation and management of buffer zones and corridors that connect core breeding areas in tiger landscapes, empowering local communities in and around the landscapes with sustainable economic incentives, and appropriate technologies to minimise human-tiger conflict. Making core/critical habitats truly inviolate with incentive-driven, generous, participatory and voluntary relocation was also suggested.

The workshop called upon the international community to make financial commitment to support long-term behaviour change campaigns with measurable outcomes for tiger conservation in the wild. Stressing the need to reach out to the target population to reduce the demand for tiger parts, the recommendations call for intensifying regional cooperation for better management and enforcement in trans-boundary tiger landscapes.

Use of innovative and sustainable mechanisms to finance conservation, and generation of collective support to tiger range countries from the international donor community to reverse the decline of wild tigers were also suggested.

The recommendations will be presented to the Ministers of the tiger range countries who are expected to meet in Thailand in January 2010.

From THE HINDU

Global Warming: Glaciers at heart of cilmate change-WWF

KATHMANDU: The melting of the glaciers in the Himalayan belt may be a hot topic linked to the ongoing debate on climate change.  But experts claimed that the existing data is inadequate to conclusively predict that glaciers would cease to exist in the near future.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) report stated that the total area of the glaciers would shrink from 500,000 to 100,000 sq km by 2035. Richard Armstrong Professor, Colorado University, USA, however, has debunked this forecast. “The data is baseless since the total area of Himalayan glaciers is less than 1, 00,000 sq km,” said Armstrong.

Himalayan glaciers are melting rapidly

Himalayan glaciers are melting rapidly

The International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD), too, has supported Armstrong.  “I’ve no idea about the source of the WWF’s data. As per our study, the total area of the Himalayan glaciers is around 100,000 sq km,” said Pradeep Mool, glacier expert, ICIMOD. Armstrong has pointed out that several articles on the meting of glaciers in popular scientific journals were misleading.

“The global map on the fourth assessment report of the Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) showed that the Himalayas as a blank spot due to lack of adequate and authentic data on the glaciers,” said Andreas Schild, Director General, ICIMOD. “The available data on the melting of the Himalayan glaciers reflects a sweeping generalisation, which is largely incorrect,” explained Armstrong. There is a lack of data on all in the Himalayan region, especially in the higher altitudes. 

Studies reveal that the altitude above 5,400 metres has less than 0 degree Celsius throughout the year. Hence, the meltdown of glaciers in this altitude is virtually impossible. The existing data has only been collated from the altitude below 5,400 metres, which are prone to meltdown.

Ramesh Prasad Bhushal – The Himalayan Times

WWF launch – Cycle for Change introduction to Nepal community

Our last night in Kathmandu saw us attend a dinner and WWF program launch with the great and good of Nepali society at the Radisson hotel.

Launching Cycle for change and Climate for life

Launching Cycle for change and Climate for life

The event was primarily to launch a petition signed by 200,000, Nepali youth to be presented by the Nepali Prime Minister to Ban Ki Moon- UN Secretary General and leaders of major industrial nations in the lead up to Copenhagen in December.  Our small role was to give a short presentation introducing Cycle for Change and meet with influential media, TV personalities, political and business leaders.

We had a great response and met some truly interesting and inspiring people including a large number of WWF ’s Climate Ambassadors. The Climate Ambassaders include local politicians, social entrepeneurs, and business leaders who are taking real action to promote behavioural change both politically and socially in the face of climate change.

Gavin and Eri with the WWF team

Gavin and Eri with the WWF team

We all had a great night and Eri was particularly happy to meet the NHK Nepal correspondant. Not only to promote our project, but to rest her brain and have a good chat in Japanese. The food was great , the company inspiring and the response to our project very encouraging. All in all it was a great way to leave Nepal and we now have some really excellent opportunities to promote Cycle for Change and Climate for Life when we get back to Kathmanu in a month.

From CycleforChange