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Going local

by: Kairos dela Cruz

It is often that people have a hard time pinning down my nationality every time I go out of the Philippines for work. I blended perfectly in Thailand, considered someone from the hill tracks province in Bangladesh, and occasionally called Daddy Japanese and Brother Korean. Yet, I was surprised when our tour guide mistook me for an oddly quiet Nepali who prefers that his tourist friends do the talking.


I flew in to Kathmandu, Nepal in the afternoon of April 23, arrived at the first hour of the 24th. The day of flight delays in Manila and Kuala Lumpur was capped with one of my bags slashed on the side for some reason in the airport, plus an apathetic stare from an airport officer when I complained about it. The trip was frustrating and tiring at first but excitement took over and everything seemed fine.

Apart from the certainty that I’ll have tons of fun with friends, old and new, I’m sure that the 8th Conference on Community-based Adaptation 8 (CBA 8) will give me new perspectives on my work on adaptation and climate finance. CBA 8 gathered 350 delegates from more than 60 countries to discuss, brainstorm, share, and strategize on how to move forward in promoting local adaptation action.

I did not dive straight to the conference. It would be silly to start eating hotel food immediately.

I spent the first few days getting my footing in Kathmandu’s interesting setup. We stayed in a guesthouse in Freak Street, the name says it all, and who would have thought that hippies can be concentrated in such a small place. It was a new experience itself. Afterwards, we went to a retreat

resort just an hour and a half drive from Kathmandu to have an experience of the more “local” context of the mountainous region.

We slept in cozy tents, shared stories, have a few bottles of beer and whiskey, barbecued wild boar, trekked the hills and a cremation ground, stared at the sleeping Buddha ridge, and talked to local people. Our tour guide, the one who mistook me for a Nepali, brought us to a local farm house that adapted to local circumstances by getting but effective technologies.

Long before the world started talking about climate change and how important it is, Nepali people in the hillsides have been building their houses using mud and straw. It looks simple but it provides good temperature control. I got the chance to live on a cozy tent with an elevated mud base, it is better than any other room I have stayed in.1-tent

The household also use integrated farming techniques by extracting methane from animal manure for cooking and using the by product as fertilizer. They also adapted a sound process of crop rotation to ensure that they have produce whatever the weather condition. In a way, they were able to create buffers for them despite the changing climate.1-deepak

The resort’s water supply was a whole different story. Getting water downstream is near impossible and illogical because of the elevation. They used local technology to harvest water from natural springs. The water is heated using solar heaters. With a clear sense of how important water is, the resort manages it pretty well.

We had several power interruptions. Instead of getting pissed and start panicking, it was a welcomed change of ambience.

Before we know it, we have to head back to Kathmandu for the conference. The experience I got from our own field visit went a long way in changing my perspective on how “adaptive” communities can be.

Whether I learn Nepali to live up to the mistaken Nepali identity or not, I’ll definitely be back.


*CBA 8 is an event organized by the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED). Interested individuals who were not able to attend can still participate by following #CBA8 on Twitter or registering as a Virtual Internet Participant (VIP).