“We rebuilt in 2010 as if this would never happen again,” one meme tells me in Achinalungba. He doesn’t finish the sentence.
“Well, what do we do this time to live with it?” I ask (I have no idea what the word is for adapt but I think I better learn it – quickly.)
“Plastic,” the goba responds. These villages don’t have the labour to reconstruct all their adobe buildings to deal with a wetter climate. At 3800 metres in altitude, they surely can’t change the length of the growing season and will be harvesting crops in the now unsettled autumn monsoon weather. And they will always be dependent on kilometres-long networks of irrigation canals to water fields and trees – but not have the labour to continuously repair and upkeep them.
Just as many of these villages built water “tanks” back in the drought years of the 1990s, plastic will be an important tool for this decade. In the seven villages I visited, every single one agreed that (beyond the assistance offered by the government), plastic was the best relief. It might not deal with the damage from this year, but it would be a standard tool for adaptation from today forward.