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Marooned by the monsoon

Sunday, June 28th, 2015

Villagers prepare for the worst as the rains arrive with force

Peregrine Frissell in Rasuwa

The road to recovery in Rasuwa is growing muddy. The slippery highway from Trisuli clings precariously to the mountainside, with a sheer drop down to the river. The craters on the road grow bigger with each monsoon shower. Relief trucks are stuck, their tyres spinning in the brown puddles.

Alongside the road, the terraced slopes with transplanted paddy sparkle like mirrors, reflecting the clouds. In between there is corn and millet. And in village after village, stone and brick houses have gaping holes and collapsed roofs. Brightly coloured tarpaulin tents stand nearby, with salvaged family belongings crammed inside.

Residents in four VDCs have all received 16 corrugated iron sheets per household supplied by the group, Association for International Solidarity in Asia (ASIA). The military has helped in the distribution.

The home of Tarkhuman Moktan is made out of the corrugated iron sheets, some of the only aid to make it Saramthali. Though he lives alone, he received the same number of sheets as a family of seven.

Both schools in the area were also destroyed, and over 300 children were now attending classes in six A-frame tents all in a row made of bamboo posts and white canvas. Volunteers have begun to rebuild the school in the same site of the old one, and they are using the government’s earthquake-resistant building guidelines. 

Volunteers in Saramthali constructing the new school within the boundaries of the old one following the government’s new guidelines. 

Though the school is not yet done, when completed it will be far sturdier than the homes in the areas. Many villagers have resigned themselves to a cold acceptance and crowded into the homes that provide the most cover from the rains. They have neither the money nor the means to get down to Bidur, the nearest town in Nuwakot district. They just wait for relief workers to get here. 

Khikuman Moktan has moved his family into his sister’s home, which is far smaller,  because they are too scared to stay in his damaged one. The roofing material has reached this neighbourhood, another one down the road hasn’t yet got its zinc sheets yet.

Khikuman Moktan and his son Dilba stand in front of their quake damaged home, now being used only for storage. They are living in his sister’s home.

The trucks and tractors may soon not be able to ply this road as the rains make it impossible to traverse. On a good day it takes two hours from Bidur to Saramthali, with landslides and mud it can take up to 11 hours, if at all.

Villagers work to make the road from Bidur passable for the aid trucks after a night of rain.

When the road gets blocked, as it soon will, villagers will have to walk down the steep mountains to retrieve their aid, and back again with the heavy loads coiled on their back. It will take longer, be harder for the elderly and those with children, and villagers risk getting caught in the rain and landlsides.

The new pickup point is in Nuwakot, and residents of Nuwakot are not receiving the same aid. Rasuwa villagers will have to trek with heavy loads through an area where the locals also desperately need help they have not received.

Read also:

Langtang lament

“Langtang is gone” Sahina Shrestha

A long wait Tsering Dolker Gurung

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One Response to “Marooned by the monsoon”

  1. Austin Lord on Says:

    Happy to hear about the school being rebuilt in Saramthali.

    Otherwise, this article is filled with inaccuracies and unhelpful exaggerations:

    The Association for International Solidarity in ASIA has NOT provided CGI sheets to all of the residents of four VDCs (presumably Bhorle, Jibjibe, Yarsa and Saramthali). That would be thousands of households… likely they delivered to a few wards in each VDC. Claiming full coverage is incredibly irresponsible.

    Further, several other NGOs are operating in those areas, and have been distributing CGI sheets long before the group (i.e. SEEDS). My own volunteer organization distributed several hundred tarps in both Yarsa and Saramthali VDCs. Yarsa and Saramthali have also received significant food aid.

    Nuwakot is not “waiting for aid” overall. The district has received significant (perhaps even outsized) aid – though it is true that elite capture continues to dominate Nuwakot aid. Some areas in Gerkhu may be undersupplied,.

    Betrawati, the likely “pickup point referenced” is less than half a day’s walk and located on a major paved road. Though Saramthali is more difficult to access vis a vis other areas closer to the road, it is not at all inconceivable to think that aid can’t be relayed from the roadhead. Saramthali, relative to other parts of Rasuwa or other parts of Dolakha, Gorkha, etc is hardly marooned.

    Has the author been further up the road in Rasuwa? Have they seen the rest of the road, where the risk of landslide and risk is significantly higher?

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