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Climate change and the cold deserts of the high altitude Himalayas
Sustainable Livelihoods for High Altitude Mountain Communities: Case Studies from the Himalayas
The results of a variety of participative research on the Himalayan region, some that would help one understand it better, and some that would aid appropriate development for the region.
A most often used descriptive word for the Himalayas is ‘impenetrable’, the lofty ramparts having kept out all but the explorers of yore. To date, the Himalayas remain a challenge for scientists, and a researcher that tries to ‘penetrate‘ the Himalayas must perforce be an explorer at heart and a trekker-mountaineer. Such researchers are however few and far between, and this has left the Himalayas little-studied and less-understood, and with huge development and technological gaps. Given the inadequate reliable information on the region, policies tend to be developed for the more dominant, but different, lowlands and applied in these regions, and therefore fail. Technologies in use in other parts of the world are likewise not appropriate for adoption in these parts, but very few attempts have been made to develop technologies specifically for the region.
Himalaya Research is an ongoing initiative of Pragya, the host organization for Himalayan Voices, to enhance the understanding of the Himalayas, and address the current neglect of the region in terms of research and development attention and policy focus. Several studies have been carried out on various developmental issues, ranging from micro-enterprise development to management of common property resources, under this initiative. They help extend the frontiers of knowledge on the region with findings being used for policy determination & formulation. Applied research is another major thrust with studies aimed at addressing area-specific problems and conditions and directed at the technology constraints of the Himalayan region.
The initiative seeks to make the system of research and technology development more responsive, accessible and relevant to the needs of the poor in the Himalayan Region. It comprises an integrated research & extension system for technologies that ensure quality of life in the Himalayan Region along with conservation of the Himalayan ecology. It works on developing & implementing improved technologies that are effective in the unique conditions of the Himalayas, and improves local practices with scientific inputs, following a participatory process that encourages local innovations.
Common Energy Facilities Based on Renewable Sources
by Gargi Banerji, Manali Baruah
The high-altitude belt of the Indian Himalayas is a harsh expanse of wasteland and craggy slopes ringed by snow-clad peaks. The communities that inhabit this extremely tough terrain reside in scattered small villages across the valleys and plateaus, cut off from the world due to climatic and infrastructural adversities. These hardy highlanders have learned to eke out a living from subsistence agriculture and pastoralism during the short, mild summers; the winters are bitter stretches when no productive activity is possible. Poverty levels are high, and deprivation is stark. Lack of irrigation makes cultivation of cash crops difficult, and the produce is sold raw in distant markets with very low returns for the farmers. The near-total dependence on natural resources for cultivation, fodder, timber, and fuelwood is also having a grievous impact on the fragile land and further impoverishing the indigenous communi ties. Crop productivity is declining, and the burden on women - the traditional nontimber forest product (NTFP) collectors - is steadily increasing. This poses severe problems with regard to their health and education. The altitude is also a barrier to...
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Ecology & Environment

Culture Preservation

Welfare & Infrastructure

Technologies for Himalayas

Economy & Livelihoods


Environmental Threats in Cold Deserts
by NRM & Research Team, Pragya
Nature has two faces. It may be munificent; it may also be destructive. Humankind has always known of the hazards of nature and traditional societies had evolved practices and mechanisms to protect them from the threats of their particular environment. A study of history reveals the major, albeit insidious, role that environmental threats have played in shaping cultures, settlement patterns, development trends and even destruction of societies. Environmental threats are however on the rise worldwide. The severe stress put on the environment as a result of the high-consumption society and inappropriate development models has meant that the flashpoints are more numerous, more frequent, and more intense.

Climate change is as much a cause of the environmental stress as its result. Studies have revealed the strong linkage between climate change and occurrence/intensity of natural disasters. As climate change and anthropogenic pressures on the environment escalate, environmental threats often translate into catastrophic...
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Sustainable Livelihoods for High Altitude Mountain Communities
Addressing Regional Disparities - Inclusive and Culturally Attuned Development for the Himalayas
Water Management in Cold Deserts
by Appropriate Technology Team, Pragya
Cold deserts are a distinct biome of the world and a very difficult habitat. Lands of high elevation in the rainshadow of some mountain range, they are characterised by extremely cold winters, moderately hot summers, and arid or semi-arid conditions. Located in the interior of continents, away from any source of moisture, cold deserts manifest remarkable ecological variety and biological diversity. Their geographic remoteness and unfriendly climatic conditions greatlyconstrain economic growth...
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Renewable Energy Applications in Lahaul & Spiti
An Analysis of Socio- Cultural, Economic and Livelihood Options of People of Upper Mustang, Nepal
Status of Education in the High Altitude Himalayas
by Social Development Team, Pragya
Despite India having the largest education system in the world, the task of providing effective and relevant education to all the children has remained difficult. The administration continues to grapple with the problems of inadequate access, poor quality and inefficiency in the schooling system that are most strongly felt in the remote and disadvantaged stretches, the High Altitude Himalayas being one such region. The report presents the findings of a survey conducted...
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Inventorying and Threat Assessment of Medicinal & Aromatic Plants of the High Altitude Himalayas
Understanding the Socio-cultural Experiences of Pahari Folk
 in Society & Culture
The Central Himalayan region comprising Kumaon and Garhwal has largely been neglected or ignored due to lack of information or indifference on the part of scholars towards this region. From early times, geographical factors have played a key role in shaping the history and culture of this region...
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Mountain Themes
Women, Energy and Water in the Himalayas
 in Social Issues
Water and energy are essential resources for human survival and well-being, mountain women in the Himalayas are finding it increasingly difficult to meet their daily water and energy needs in a sustainable manner. The paper documents the learnings from ‘Capacity Building of Women for Energy and Water Management in the Rural Areas...
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Mountain Issues
Biodiversity Conservation in the Himalayas
 in E-Book
The book is a compendium of articles written by experts and workers connected with Himalayan studies. The volume covers a wide range of topics having a direct bearing on the health and security of the mot outstanding yet fragile Himalayan ecosystems. The author has tried to analyze the causes of the degradation of the Himalayas...
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Dreams and Aspirations
in Voices Gallery
Anjani Paul
Keylong, Lahaul & Spiti,
Himachal Pradesh
“My dream is to see all round development of my region, and working towards achieving this goal is my ambition. To fulfill my dreams and ambitions, I feel we need to elect a good representative who can...”
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Voices Gallery
in Natural Databases
Himalayan Marmot
Closely related to prairie dogs and ground squirrels, marmots are the largest ground-dwelling squirrels in the world. Their genus name Marmota means ‘mountain mouse’. Fourteen species of marmots are found, but only in the Northern Hemisphere. Distributed in the Himalayan region, the Himalayan marmot is roughly the size of...
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Himalaya Documentation
Facts on Himalayan Ecology
 Flora of the Himalayas
The Indian Himalayas are unique in the fact that they are home to a multitude of plant species, many of which are endemic to the region. They are a storehouse of the most rare and valuable species of medicinal plants, with approximately 1700 species being classified as high-value plants. Approximately five families, 71 genera and 3,160 species...
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Ecology & Environment:Himalaya Research has worked on a variety of issues with respect to the Himalayan ecology and environment, such as climate change, biodiversity conservation, management of common property resources, environmental threats. A blend of community-based processes and scientific research methods are used for these studies, including detailed ground surveys and participatory appraisals.
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Technology for the Himalayas:Technology studies by Himalaya Research have included surveys to determine the technology context and site conditions, feasibility studies for select technologies, as well as application research and pilot installations of technology adaptations for the high altitudes. The major thrust of current research is in the field of renewable energy and water management.
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Culture Preservation:Himalaya Research has conducted ethnographic studies on various aspects of Himalayan cultures. Policy research has been undertaken and studies in development practices and technologies/methods for the preservation and promotion of Himalayan cultures have also been carried out.
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Economy & Livelihoods:Solutions for the poverty and lack of livelihood opportunities in the Himalayan region have been explored under Himalaya Research. Feasibility studies and market assessments, best practice studies of development practices in the livelihoods domain, and policy research, have been conducted. Specific sectors explored include the herbal sector, ecotourism, fruit processing, handicrafts and handloom.
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Welfare & Infrastructure:The welfare and infrastructure status of the Himalayan region has been assessed by Himalaya Research, using a mix of participatory research and objective indicators. Studies have brought out issues with respect to education, information services, health conditions, etc., and have suggested policy measures and innovations in development practice to address the welfare and infrastructure gaps in the Himalayan region.
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