3-9 July 2015 #765

Monsoon fears

Villagers prepare for the worst as the rains arrive with force
Peregrine Frissell in RASUWA

PEREGRINE FRISSELL
ROAD CLEARANCE: Villagers work to make the road from Saramthali passable for the aid trucks after a night of rain.

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. The military has helped in the distribution.

PEREGRINE FRISSELL
Home of Tarkhuman Moktan is made out of the corrugated iron sheets.

The home of Tarkhuman Moktan is made out of the corrugated iron sheets, some of the only aid to make it to 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 are 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.

PEREGRINE FRISSELL
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 his sister's neighbourhood, but not his own which is just across the street.

PEREGRINE FRISSELL
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.

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 across their back. It will take longer, be harder for the elderly and those with children, and villagers risk getting caught in the rain and landslides.

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 yet received.

Read also:

Marooned by the Monsoon, Om Astha Rai

Two months later at the epicenter

Soon, the monsoon, Editorial

Searching for a heart of, Dambar Krishna Shrestha

Move us, Phurpa Tamang

Bureaucracy as usual, Stephane Huet

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