Local knowledge takes an important position in the studies of environmental hazards and disasters. Local knowledge of flood mitigation and coping strategies in Nepal is also found to be effective. However, the documentation of the practices, experiences and promotion of the local knowledge in Nepal is not yet sufficient. Mahakali River, a transboundary river flows between Nepal and India brings floods when there is unprecedented rainfall during the monsoon season. The magnitude of heavy precipitation events in Mahakali River Basin signifies increased risks of river flooding that often causes inundation of human settlements in downstream areas of Nepal. This chapter documents and analyses the local knowledge and flood coping strategies in two downstream communities, namely Kutiyakhabar and Belauri inhabited by Sunar and Tharu. We also tried to present existing perspective and debates on the topics of local environmental knowledge and environmental implications of social issues specific to the Sunar and the Tharu. We found that local knowledge used for storing seed and food grains, protecting houses and saving to flooding by the Sunar and the Tharu have been integrated to their belief, resource use practices and social interactions. Their environmental knowledge of rivers and floods since the advent of modern era is an accumulative knowledge in relation to the anthropogenic impacts of India’s management of the barrages, socio-religious limitation of Hinduism, and present global climate change. It reflects the wisdom and resilience of the Sunar and the Tharu living under environmentally and socially adversary conditions. Therefore, the study of the environmental knowledge of the Sunar and Tharu communities to be an initiative of environmental scientists, provides insights to the policy arena of Nepal since such affairs in Nepal have not yet taken into account. Hence, for effective policymaking, modern scientists and policymakers should joint hands together. Further, national policies of Nepal should lend substantial support to the scientific documentation and promotion of community-based environmental knowledge for a sustainable future of Nepal.

Citation and Link:

Deshar, R., Shrestha, D., Maharjan, S., & Koirala, M. (2021). Local knowledge of floods and coping strategies in downstream Mahakali River, Nepal. In D.S. Yü, E. de Maaker (Eds.), Environmental Humanities in the New Himalayas. Routledge, Tailor and Francis. doi https://doi.org/10.4324/9781003144113