A challenging year ~ troubles in Nepal continues

December 29th, 2015

2015 has been such a challenging year for Nepal. We were already in the middle of political turmoil when it started. April and May were the hardest months; we faced two massive earthquakes and thousands of aftershocks. Many of us lost our families, friends, loved ones and parts of our heritage that were indispensable parts of our lives.

We came to know how ruthless nature could be and how fearful and helpless life can get. I remember the second night, after the April 25 earthquake, when my family was sleeping in an open space near our house under a makeshift tent due to frequent strong aftershocks. It rained that night and my mother was struggling to keep us warm but somehow some raindrops would get into our tent and it was cold – very cold. I felt so helpless at that moment, I felt sad not just for myself but for all the people who were outside and who probably didn’t even have a plastic sheet to keep the rain off. I thought about little children and people who don’t even have another change of clothes or a blanket to cover up. The cold was too much to bear, I got up from the tent and went to my home and slept on the ground floor. But unlike me, many people didn’t even have a home to go back to.

IMG_9210Almost eight months past, they still don’t have a house to sleep properly. People whose houses were destroyed are still living in the temporary shelters, made up of tins and galvanised iron sheets. Things, instead of improving, are only getting worse for them!

Winter this year is remarkably cold. Temperatures are at a record low. The most popular conversation starter these days is – oh this year’s winter is too cold, isn’t it? And cold it is. On the top of everything, Nepal is facing an economic blockade (I will not get into political details of that) due to which there is shortage of every possible thing. There is no fuel to run the vehicles, to cook food, to keep ourselves warm – just imagine no fuel, no cooking gas and not even electricity. we are living the energy crisis nightmare! Price of everyday items have sky rocketed.

How does a poor person living in a temporary shelter survive in such a situation? How do they cope with the cold in their shelters? How do they keep their children warm?

Arjun Sunar of Asrang Village Development Committee (VDC), Gorkha District shares about his family’s experience of living in a temporary shelter, “We were adjusting in the temporary shelter but it is getting colder by the day. It gets so cold that dew drops start dripping from 11 pm making it difficult for the whole family to sleep.” Practical Action along with its partner organisation had supported Arjun to construct a temporary shelter.

Apart from cold, there are also other problems such as lack of adequate space and the difficulty of maintaining privacy. Due to lack of enough rooms, some of the families are using the kitchen and bedrooms of their partially damaged houses on the verge of collapse. This is keeping them at great risk with aftershocks still returning.

To ease the problem of cold, Arjun has tried to insulate his shelter with cardboard. “There is a scarcity of insulating materials in the market, so I have used cardboard. There is some control in the dropping of dew from roof in night time after that. But cold air passes inside from different corners which is still a problem for my family members. We have all started getting sick from the cold,” says Arjun.

Arjun have only heard that the government is going to provide some resources to build a house. And he wants to make it earthquake resilient. “I don’t think the amount which will be provided by the government will be enough for a good construction. And I don’t know when the relief will be provided, winter is becoming increasingly hard for us.”

Arjun is only a representative, there are many families struggling to survive cold, along with the pain of losing their loved ones and homes. The situation is even more challenging for families with small children, lactating mothers and senior citizens. Most of the health posts’ records show that there is a huge increase in the number of people compared to previous year visiting these posts this year due to cold related diseases. There are headlines in newspapers of earthquake victims losing their lives due to cold. This loss cannot be blamed to the nature alone; deaths due to cold could have been prevented.

Seems like the challenges for Nepal is not ending anytime soon; even after the year ends. With the winter getting more severe by the day, it is high time that priority be given to reach out to these people. Government as well as non-government organisations should prioritise making winter easier for the people – who must be feeling cold and helpless out there.


3 responses to “A challenging year ~ troubles in Nepal continues”

  1. Dillip Pattanaik Says:

    Thanks for this informative Blog Swarnima. Praying God to give more strength to Nepal ..

    All the best …. Dillip

  2. Swazan Swaraj Shakya Says:

    Let’s hope very soon everything will be back to normal 🙂

  3. Hima Sharma Says:

    Definitely, it’s been terribly difficult, the lives of people. Joint effort under the influence of positive thoughts is the only way to bring things on the right track.

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