pics: Cody tuttle
NEGOTIATING WITH NATURE: A mule train with earthquake relief passes a precarious landslide triggered by the 25 May quake, made worse by the monsoon in Gorkha.
Some mountaineers climbing Mt Everest and Annapurna when the earthquake struck on 25 April plunged right into collecting and taking emergency relief to remote mountain villages. For them, there was no question of abandoning Nepal, a country they have come to love through their climbing. In Kathmandu, the Hillary Relief Collective serves as a platform to coordinate activities on the ground so that relief goes where it is needed the most.
Three months on, the priority is still: food and medicines, shelter, education and health, and rebuilding trails so that access to relief supplies is kept open. And that is where the mountaineers come in. Says Argentinean climber Damian Benegas: “Mountaineers are very good at getting material from Point A to Point B and that is
why our experience has been useful.”
However, instead of making things easier for earthquake survivors, the government machinery is structured to make it as hard as possible. The Rs 15,000 cash grant promised to every family has still not got to people in remote areas. The Reconstruction Authority has not been set up, and without elected local councils, the state mechanism is not geared for this work. The poor are often excluded because they are intimidated by the bureaucratic maze and paperwork. They just don’t know how to work the system.