The Himalayas are highly susceptible to the impacts of climate change, as it consequently increases the vulnerability of downstream communities, livelihoods and ecosystems. Western Nepal currently holds significant potential as multiple opportunities for water development within the country are underway. However, it is also identified as one of the most vulnerable regions to climate change, with both an increase in the occurrence of natural disasters and exacerbated severity and impacts levels. Regional climate model (RCM) projections indicate warmer weather with higher variability in rainfall for this region. This paper combines bio-physical and social approaches to further study and understand the current climate shocks and responses present in Western Nepal. Data was collected from 3660 households across 122 primary sampling units across the Karnali, Mahakali and Mohana River basins along with focus group discussions, which provided a rich understanding of the currently perceived climatic shocks and related events. Further analysis of climatology was carried out through nine indices of precipitation and temperature that were found to be relevant to the discussed climate shocks. Results show that 79% of households reported experiencing at least one type of climate shock in the five-year period and the most common occurrence was droughts, which is also supported by the climate data. Disaggregated results show that perception varies with the region and among the basins. Analysis of climatic trends further show that irregular weather is most common in the hill region, although average reported frequency of irregular weather is higher in the mountain. Further analysis into the severity and response to climatic shocks suggest an imminent need for better adaptation strategies. This study’s results show that a vast majority of respondents lack proper access to knowledge and that successful adaptation strategies must be adapted to specific regions to meet communities’ local needs.
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