UPDATE: KODARI AND GHUMTHANG FEBRUARY 2017
RHF (Wolfgang and Andrew) recently visited Kodari and Ghumthang with a view to:
- Viewing the earthquake damage in Kodari almost 2 years after the April 2015 earthquake;
- Auditing progress at the Shree Panchakanya Basic School, Ghumthang – 8, which had received $7,000 from RHF last year; and
- Evaluating proposals from 2 further schools in Ghumthang.
The Shree Panchakanya basic School is to be congratulated on keeping meticulous records of expenditure and presenting detailed accounts for audit. Two new classrooms, a kitchen and toilet have been built with the funds donated. In addition the school has purchased a small plot of land adjoining the school grounds for future expansion. A retaining wall has also been repaired and access to the school improved by adding a set of stone steps leading to the school premises.
As a result of the visit it was decided to make a grant of $7,000 to Shree Bhadrakali Primary School, Ghumthang – 3 and a grant of $1,000 to Shree Balkalyan Lower Secondary School, Ghumthang – 1. New proposals were received from the residents of Kodari for a Community Centre and from the Shree Panchakanya Basic School for furniture. These last 2 might be considered if and when further funds become available, but were not considered a priority.
We will continue to monitor the situation.
Major flooding on the Bhote Kosi River in late July this year has caused catastrophic damage to villages along the Friendship Highway from Kathmandu to the Tibet border, including Tatopani and the border town of Kodari itself. As of early August 2016, the Nepal-Tibet Border here has still not reopened since the major earthquakes last year adding to the hardships of local traders. With this new flood destruction up at Kodari, its is very unlikely this border point will reopen anytime in the foreseeable future.
NEPAL UPDATE – 6 August 2016
Political instability leading to two changes of government in the past year and an unusually heavy monsoon have hindered earthquake relief efforts in Nepal. To date successive governments have spent less than 10 per cent of the 4.6 billion dollars pledged by the international community for earthquake relief. Late last year border closures led to a shortage of building materials and fuel which in turn inflated the cost of those goods that were available in the market. The fuel shortage restricted mobility and meant that we were not able to get out and about as much as we would have liked to. More recently an unusually heavy monsoon has caused widespread flooding and triggered many landslides in hill and mountain districts, further adding to the humanitarian disaster.
GHUMTHANG VILLAGE AND SCHOOL UPDATE
The temporary buildings for Shree Panchakanya Primary School in Ghumthang -8 were completed by mid-May 2016. However monsoon weather has meant that it has not been possible for us to visit and check on the project.
A particularly heavy monsoon in Nepal virtually washed away the town of Kodari, below Ghumthang, on the Nepal-Tibet Highway. It is unlikely that this former border crossing will reopen any time soon. Connecting roads were also washed away. The road to Ghumthang is not passable. Repeated landslides have prevented us from entering this area, although contact has been maintained by phone.
Some 61 residents of Ghumthang – 8 and a further 153 people in Ghumthang – 9 remain in need of assistance. They have now survived two monsoons and one winter in temporary shelters constructed from zinc sheeting and tarpaulins.
In addition we have received requests for assistance from the Shree Bhadrakali Primary School in Ghumthang – 3 and the Shree Balkalyan Lower Secondary School in Ghumthang -1.
It is intended to revisit Ghumthang once the monsoon rains are over and road access is restored.
It has not been possible to visit Banakhu recently, although it is understood that the government has conducted surveys for the distribution of earthquake relief. Under the government program those people who lost their houses will be able to claim a grant of 200,000 rupees per household (roughly US $2,000) towards reconstruction costs. To date most people in Banakhu are surviving in temporary shelters, some of which were constructed with help from the Ride High Foundation. It is intended to visit Banakhu once the monsoon rains are over and the village becomes accessible.
Nepal Update – March 2016:
After six months of a politically-inspired blockade of the India-Nepal border (vital to landlocked Nepal) the borders are now open again. The closure of the border saw severe shortages of all commodities in the market and prices of even basic foodstuffs soared. The shortage of fuel – diesel and gasoline in particular – brought earthquake relief efforts almost to a standstill. These are now resuming as more fuel becomes available. The Nepal – China (Tibet) border crossing at Kodari remains closed. The Nepal government is in the process of improving the road to the alternative crossing being developed at Kyerung. The Nepal-Tibet land border remains closed to tourism at present.