A case study in the Solukhumbu region in northern Nepal reveals that the high number of seasonal tourists—which has doubled in 20 years—has led to growing water, food, and energy demands that have modified agropastoral practices and the use of local resources. This has induced new patterns in the movement of goods, people, and animals in the Everest region and the reconfiguration of the water–energy–food nexus. We use this concept of nexus to analyze ongoing interactions and transformations.
Key changes involve (1) massive imports of consumer goods; (2) use of local resources with new techniques (hydropower plants, improved mills, greenhouses, and pipes for domestic networks) that depend on imported materials, which are newly accessible to Sherpas as a result of economic benefits generated by tourism; (3) commodification of local resources (water, hydropower, vegetables, fodder, and flour); (4) an increasing number of electrical appliances; and (5) new uses of water, especially for tourist-related services, including hot showers, watering of greenhouses, bottling of water, and production of electricity for cell phones, rice cookers, and other electric appliances. These new uses, on top of traditional ones such as mill operation, compete in some places during spring when water supplies are low and the tourist demand is high. A transfer of pressure from one resource (the forest) to another (water) has also resulted from the government ban on woodcutting, incentives to develop hydropower, and the competition between lodges to upgrade their amenities by offering better services (such as hot showers, plugs to recharge batteries, internet connections, and local vegetables). Our research finds that water is now central to the proper running of the tourist industry and the region's economy but is under seasonal pressure.
Aubriot, O., Faulon, M., Sacareau, I., Puschiasis, O., Jacquemet, E., Smadja, J., André-Lamat, V., Abadia, C. & Muller, A. (2019). Reconfiguration of the Water–Energy–Food Nexus in the Everest Tourist Region of Solukhumbu, Nepal. Mountain Research and Development, 39(1).
© The authors.