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

Text & photos by Masfique A. Hazarika

People staying near breached embankment

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.

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.

Dihiri Chapori is a village situated near the bank of Jiadhal river (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 Namoni Dihiri, Maaj Dihiri, Ujoni Dihiri, Dihiri Chapori, Dihiri Kachari and Dihiri Lapong. 3 settlements are located in between 2 branches of Jiadhal River (Kumotia and Samarajan). These villages has been considered as one of the most vulnerable villages of western Dhemaji district in terms of flash flood. The flow regime of the Jiadhal river along with erratic rainfall on the upper catchment area (Arunachal Pradesh) has worsened the situation of Dihiri since 2007-08.