The insect that changed Nepal’s history

The insect that changed Nepal’s history


Since 1900, who has most significantly changed the flow of events? Many people would point to influential political actors like Chandra Shumshere or King Mahendra, even Prachanda.

My answer: the Anopheles minimus mosquito.

Although mountains loom large on Nepal’s horizon, much of the country’s history has been shaped by a lowland disease: malaria. One visitor to Nepal in the 1920s (somewhat dramatically) called malaria ‘a name which hums an undertone of death throughout the chronicles of Nepal’.

Malaria has long plagued the Tarai, but also, places like Pokhara in the hills. Just as malaria shaped Nepal’s past, its almost complete removal in the 1960s and 1970s has shaped Nepal’s present, launching vast demographic, environmental, and political changes that are still playing out.