Category Archives: Mountain Landscapes

Wyoming moves from coal to coding– opportunity for next gen

How a State Plans to Turn Coal Country Into Coding Country

Driven by a tech-industry vision of rural economic revival, Wyoming is requiring all of its K-12 public schools to offer computer science.


Mexico Community Forestry alleviates poverty

Community Forestry has been identified as a secure, profitable, and equitable strategy to reach the dual goal of forest conservation and poverty alleviation. This research contributes to the literature exploring the effects of local capacity building in forest communities by analyzing the Community Forestry Program (CFP) in Mexico. This program provides grants to enhance four types of local capacities: human, social, economic, and environmental. We used a quasi-experimental approach to quantitatively compare matched treatment and control communities regarding the effect of these interventions on two response variables: poverty alleviation and forest cover conservation. The treatment and control communities were assessed at two points in time: pre-intervention and after a 5-year treatment period. This approach was possible because we had access to a rich database of CFP grants containing more than 20,000 records from which we identify 5074 that meet the criteria for our study. Impact on poverty is assessed using a Marginality Index produced by a federal agency. Effect on forest cover conservation is evaluated by using two proxies, the rate of change on: forest cover and on forest cover fragmentation. Our results show that enhancement of only human/social capacities or all capacities as a package significantly reduce poverty. However, the first ones have a greater impact that the latter ones. Neither human/social capacities enhancement, nor all-capacities enhancement had a statistically significant effect on forest cover conser- vation. These findings can assist in better designing and targeting future CFP grants in Mexico. Also, they have implications for public policy since capacity building is cheaper than any other poverty alleviation mechanism such as direct cash transfers or subsidies. Furthermore, they have long-lasting impacts that do not require regular periodical contributions and they don’t discriminate by gender, or by the require- ment on individual community members of having land ownership rights within the community’s land holdings.


Effect of capacity building in alleviating poverty and improving forest conservation in the communal forests of Mexico

Juan Manuel Torres-Rojo a,⇑, Rafael Moreno-Sánchez b, Joel Amador-Callejas

World Development 121 (2019) 108–122


One Year Later: Nepal Earthquake News

Rasuwa suspension

Our hearts are with Nepal’s mountain people today. As a tribute, here’s a link to our photo blog, “One Year After the Nepal Quakes: Resilience and Uncertainty as Remote Mountain Villages Rebuild”. Drs. Jeremy Spoon and Meeta Pradhan highlight the resilience, uncertainty and slow recovery in the Himalayan mountain communities where TMI has worked for decades.

Villagers haul rocks harvested from landslides to rebuild their homes in Gorkha District, Nepal.

Reflections on this past year from
TMI’s Himalayan Program Director, Dr. Meeta S. Pradhan:

Every time I read about (or feel) another aftershock here in Kathmandu, my heart goes out to the mountain communities, which have been hit so hard. One year after the devastating earthquakes, picking up pieces of their shattered lives continues to be punctuated with fear, uncertainty and untold hardships. Yet they are moving on with an incredible strength of character and perseverance. And they continue to open up their hearts and share their temporary shelters with us every time when we visit their villages.

I feel a deep sense of pain and frustration with the pace at which the recovery and rebuilding is moving.  One year after the devastation, lives and livelihoods are still disrupted for most of the people in the remote mountain communities. “Building back better” has never seemed such a far-fetched dream as it is right now. Yet it is amazing to see the communities relying on their traditions of self-help and labour exchange to clear the rubble and rebuild homes, even as they wonder if they will ever see the government grant for rebuilding their homes. Mountain people are facing yet another monsoon season spent under risky, rickety, temporary shelters. The continuing fear of further tremors and potential damages by the upcoming monsoon rains is very real and palpable – they are worried about how lives, livestock, agricultural land, schools, health clinics, roads and water sources will survive another onslaught.

I am at a loss for words to describe the tenacity of many of the women I have met in different villages after the earthquake. The physical hardship of their lives has increased many fold; protecting their families is top priority; they are worried and exhausted but they need to carry on. The power of these women everywhere as they continue to pull their families together is incredible–and inspiring.

One year after the natural disaster that hit Nepal, it is clear that the “man-made disaster”– inefficiency, apathy, lack of political will and additional hardships due to political conflict–has made a bad situation even worse. But the resilience, hard work and strength of the survivors should be supported by a growing sense of urgency, responsibility and accountability by all who are involved.”

For more info about TMI’s work in hard-hit mountain areas of Nepal during this past year, check out the following photo blogs:

Field Trip to Dhading, Nepal
The People of Haku
Nepal: Relief and Rebuild


Please support our work in Nepal
via the Institute’s Network For Good page:
If you prefer to mail a check, our D.C. headquarters address is given below.

Bear Ears Coalition National Monument

bearearscoalition siteA unique coalition of Utah tribes continue to exhort Obama to declare Bear Ears Coalition sacred and historical sites as a national monument to protect native heritage, sacred lands and resources into the future.

Tribes supporting protection of Bears Ears:

  • Navajo Nation
  • Hopi Tribe
  • Ute Mountain Ute Tribe
  • Uintah and Ouray Ute Indian Tribe
  • Hualapai Tribe
  • Pueblos of Acoma, Cochiti, Isleta, Jemez, Laguna, Nambe, Ohkay Owingeh, Picuris, Pojoaque, Sandia, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Santo Domingo, Taos, Tesuque, Ysleta Del Sur, Zia and Zuni

So much heritage. So much threat. So little time.

Lets not lose a treasure we will forever regret.

Strong Majority of Utahns Shown to Support Bears Ears National Monument



Indigenous Voices from the Chaco —

Water Capture in Salta Argentina

For more information/Para mas información –

This video shows were the water capture project will take place. Elizabeth Amador Bonifacio, tells us a little bit about their vision and her story.

Este video muestra donde el proyecto de captura de agua se llevara acabo. Elizabeth Amador de Bonifacio, nos cuenta un poco sobre la vision que tienen y su historia.

Agroecology in the CHACO region

Uploaded on Sep 14, 2009

Muestra un emprendimiento agro ecológico para las actividades productivas dirigidas a establecer nuevos paradigmas sobre la producción ecológica y el manejo ecológico y sustentable del campo, que a su vez genera empleo y bienestar para las familias, con miras a lograr un equilibrio entre las necesidades de producción y el bienestar del medio ambiente.

Some years ago, URUNDEI, a national NGO from Argentina working with peoples of the Chaco region, helped community organizations to produce a series of very short, sweet videos about what the CHACO means to them and why it matters.  An important ecoregion that is often ignored because not as well known or understood as the Amazon or Andes region of Latin America, the CHACO is a place of amazing livelihoods, nature and peoples.

There are a number of Urundei videos in this series.

(And the music is great in all as well)


Nepal Earthquake News: Wrong Conversation

Earthquake in Nepal: 5.5 magnitude quake forces residents to rush out of homes; over 15 people injured



From the Republica– courtesy of Andy Manzardo news cull
10 Jul 2015 | 19:25pm
Kristen Zipperer

Wrong conversation
In the weeks that followed the April 25 earthquake, dozens of articles made light of the fact that natural disasters, including earthquakes, are usually worse for women. While generally true, this conversation does not go far enough and must be better nuanced: Different women experience disaster differently according to a variety of factors, including geography, age, class, caste, ethnicity, marital status, and position within the household and community.

In framing this disaster rhetoric primarily as “something that happens to women”, it not only boxes women in as categorical victims and robs them of their ability to make purposeful decisions, it also overlooks the vital role that they can play in disaster response and development.
I visited the villages of Tinpiple and Dapcha in Kavre recently to try to understand how local women themselves view the disaster and its aftermath. In many ways, they agreed with what has been circulating in the media—their experience and needs after the earthquake were different than those of men. While men became anxious about how they would continue to earn a livelihood, enough to support their family and to rebuild their houses, women’s anxieties focused more on the immediate short term: how they would keep their children safe, prepare the next meal, care for the sick, and clean what needed to be cleaned.

The women, many of whom were still sleeping with their families in tents, also worried about how safe it was for them to go to the bathroom at night. Stories had been circulating around the water tap that there had been an increase of young, unmarried women going to the hospital saying that they were pregnant, presumably because they had been raped. Another woman has a husband working in Malaysia. He told her that he has other debts to pay off, and that she would have to figure out how to rebuild their damaged house on her own.

While these are all experiences of women, they are not the experiences of all women, and it is important to recognize this distinction. One reason why women were believed to be more impacted in the earthquake was that it was thought they were more likely to be at home doing housework at the time, rather than working out in a field.

However, in one group of women I spoke with, only one of the five women had actually been at home when things began to shake. The other women, many of whom are active members of different community organizations, were busy running errands in nearby towns. This suggests that where women were when the earthquake struck cannot always be pinned to broad, gendered categories, but instead depends on a combination of factors such as class and mobility, which can be vastly different among women even within the same community.

The fact that different women experience disaster differently is true for the post-disaster and recovery process as well. Around both Tinpiple and Dapcha, the shifting ground caused some springs being used for water collection to dry up, while others became more plentiful. As a result, some girls and women now have to walk farther to other springs and spend more time collecting water, while for others, collection is easier.

Wards, as administrative units, can also inadvertently serve to differentiate women and their families: In hilly regions, wards are often delineated up hillsides. If relief is destined for a specific ward, those women and families who live closest to the road have the potential to receive more support than those who are not. In Tinpiple, the women said that widowed or divorced women are experiencing some of the biggest difficulties.

One disabled, widowed woman has two ropanis of land, but because of the earthquake, the people who farm the land are unable to pay her. After the earthquake, she moved into a tent with another family, but soon, the tent was taken away. She currently has no home, no means of income, and no one to take care of her.

In effect, then, to merely say that women are affected more in disasters come across as insufficient when one starts to take into account the heterogeneity that exists within the category of women. Worse, it leaves the potential for relief efforts to focus on women generally, with the result that the women who need it most may not receive the proper attention. As the country’s reconstruction process moves forward, it will be necessary to translate this more complicated understanding of women’s circumstances into practice.

Lastly, the disaster rhetoric that emphasizes women’s suffering tends to take away focus from the dynamic role that women have the potential to play in rebuilding their communities. This is in part because women bring a gender-specific perspective to discussions, and also often have social networks that differ from men’s, which frequently reach some of the most vulnerable members of the community.

Significantly, the women in Kavre did not see themselves as victims, but as individuals who must figure out how to effectively move forward without waiting for the help of outsiders. One woman started laughing as she told the story of how she had wanted to be part of the relief effort, so against the wishes of men nearby, she tied a shawl around her face and went to the roof of a house and helped demolish it. Relief efforts will come and go, but it is locals like these women who ultimately have the task of rebuilding their communities in the years to come.

This article was completed with the assistance of ICIMOD.
The author is working as a Consultant at ICIMOD


As of 26th June, 2015, over 8,800 deaths have been confirmed (NEOC/MoHA). Around 594,000 (48%) houses had fully damaged and about 280,000 (23%) houses had been partially damaged (Nepal Earthquake: Weekly Situation Update, 26 June 2015, OCHA). The table below shows the 15 most affected districts death toll and casualties.

source: Headlines Himalaya, a weekly e‐News of Environmental Graduates of Himalaya

 Please see this new Mountain Institute webpage and other news:

Earthquake pushed 1 million Nepalis below poverty line: Report