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Masfique A. Hazarika
Date of Publish: 2017-09-21

Climate Change and its impact - a case study of Dihiri village in Dhemaji district


What is climate change? Though the answer seems obvious, there is no exact definition of climate change. According to scientists, it’s a long term phenomenon where various climatic factors like temperature and precipitation are changing in terms of quantity and quality over a period of time. Climate change has been defined by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)as “a change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods.” As suggested by many climatologists, it would be good if we can study the impact of climate change on a regional basis.


Only road which connect Dihiri with nearest highway


Brahmaputra is one of the largest rivers flowing through Assam, a state rich in bio-diversity due to its river system. This river starts its journey from a glacier at Tibet (on eastern Himalayan basin) and meets Bay of Bengal passing through Tibet, China (known as Warloong-Tsangpo), India and Bangladesh (known as Jamuna). While entering Assam from Arunachal Pradesh, Siang meets Dibang and Lohit, which are the two major river channels flowing from the north-east and eastern parts of the region. At this point, the river become huge and flow placidly westward in multiple braided channel. During its journey through Assam, the Brahmaputra has more than 10 tributaries which feed the river with huge amounts of water thus making the river system one of the largest throughout the planet. Most of its tributaries which carry huge amount of water flows from the northern side and are concentrated in the district of Dhemaji, Lakhimpur and Sonitpur.

Jiadhal river during winter


Dihiri Chapori is a village situated near the bank of Jiadhalriver (Samarajan branch) on the western part of Dhemaji district of Assam. The village is approximately 500 meter away from the NH 15. There are more than 500 households with a population of nearly 2,500. This whole village has been divided in two parts by the Samarajan branch of Jiadhal River. According to the villagers, there are a total of 6 settlements namely NamoniDihiri, MaajDihiri, UjoniDihiri, DihiriChapori, DihiriKachari and DihiriLapong. 3 settlements are located in between 2 branches of Jiadhal River (Kumotia and Samarajan).

Lower primary school building in the village


These villages have been considered as one of the most vulnerable villages of western Dhemaji district in terms of flash flood. The flow regime of the Jiadhalriver along with erratic rainfall on the upper catchment area (Arunachal Pradesh) has worsened the situation of Dihiri since 2007-08.

According to villagers, flash flood carries huge amount of silts and sediments which affect their agricultural field and their major source of livelihood. Since 2008-09 many researchers and a few renowned scientists have been visiting this village to carry out ground level research to understand the adverse effect of climate change, take adaptive measures for villagers against these adverse situations, etc.

A woman crossing the branch of the river which is flowing through the village


Dihiri has found a place on various international research platforms. As told by the villagers, in the past, the socio-economic status of the villagers was better than at present. Agriculture productivity which used to be their major source of income has been most affected due to huge sandcasting deposited by the flood waters. . They also noticed that the reason behind this sand deposition is cutting of trees on the hills of Arunachal Pradesh i.e. upper catchment of the river.

Impact on the Education system

The entire DihiriChapori has only two higher primary schools. One of them is located at NamoniDihiri and another at DihiriLapong. Since the last 10 years, the school situated at NamoniDihiri is washed away every year, by flash floods of Jiadhal. The villagers reconstruct the building after every flood season.

Villagers transporting belongings to safer places


According to the only teacher of the school, he has to divide the timeline of 6 hours for class 1 to class 5 every day. Hence, the quality of teaching is degradingsteadily. Another Lower Primary school located at DihiriLapong which is a concrete building, but is not reachable for at least 4 months during the year due to flash floods. This school building is also used as a shelter for villagers as well as other livestock during flood times and hence classes remaincancelled for long periods.

A PHC in nearby village which was sand casted during flash flood on Jiadhal


Moreover, teachers of both the schools are not from this village. They have to walk approximately 1 -2 km from the National Highway to reach the schools. During flood season the teachers cancel classes as they can’t reach the schools due to flood. This leads to a weak educational foundation for all the children of this village. In regard to the socio-economic status, 90% of the households are BPL (Below Poverty Line) card holders. Those who are economically well-off, send their children to the nearby town for studies. However, those students are also affected during flood times when all connectivity to the main Highway gets damaged.

The bamboo bridge which was constructed by villagers was destroyed by the flood


Researchers have tried to establish the fact that the situation of Dihiri is a good example of the adverse effect of climate change. With this article we would like to motivate and encourage local residents to enhance their knowledge based on climate change and its adverse effect on their livelihood. As defined above, climate change over eastern Brahmaputra basin is mainly due to the anthropogenic activity, i.e. deforestation in a huge scale.


Masfique A. Hazarika

(The author started his career as a Research Assistant in Aaranyak. With an interdisciplinary background, he is presently working as a Senior Project Training Manager in National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj, Hyderabad. He can be reached at masfiq.assam@gmail.com. His contact: +91-7036702674.

All photographs were taken by the author.

This article was first published in Biolink (Vol 14, No. 1 & 2 ), a quarterly newsletter published by AARANYAK


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