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Nepal: Relief and Rebuild

For a safer, more resilient future.

Story by The Mountain Institute August 20th, 2015

For many years, The Mountain Institute (TMI) has worked hand-in-hand with remote mountain communities in Rasuwa, Dhading and Gorkha districts of Nepal. Since the devastating earthquakes in April and May, we have been committed to providing both immediate relief and long-term rebuilding in 10 of our 13 working areas, known as VDCs - Village Development Committees.

The impact of the earthquakes did not end in May. The onset of the monsoon season created greater challenges for many people, and shattered their dreams of a better life after the earthquake. Increased landslides, unstable ground, large cracks and weakened slopes left many people at risk. More and more individuals and families are displaced to temporary shelters or to cities and villages far from home.

Affected community members conduct Needs Assesments to identify key issues and top priorities for relief and rebuilding work.

The Mountain Institute and our partners assisted communities in conducting Needs Assessments. These were completed in Kashigaun and Manbu (Gorkha), Tipling, Sertung, Jharlang and Lapa (Dhading) and in Gatlang, Goljung, Haku and Dadagaun (Rasuwa.) The assessment helped us identify each community’s post disaster needs in an efficient way. Based on this analysis, we have determined how best to allocate resources, always aiming to ensure resilient and sustainable livelihoods in these mountain communities.

Affected community members conduct Needs Assesments to identify key issues and top priorities for relief and rebuilding work.

TMI has been supporting “Quick Relief Activities” in selected communities in Rasuwa, Gorkha and Dhading districts to address their most urgent needs, as identified by community members. TMI provided support for reconstructing access to drinking water, helped repair foot trails, and assisted in rebuilding a partially damaged community hall, to name just a few activities. TMI has worked with its local partners, RTEES—Nepal, in Rasuwa and with HEED—Nepal in Dhading and Gorkha.

Positive solutions - new hope

Godam—9, of Gatlang VDC, Rasuwa was facing a severe problem of drinking water after the devastating earthquake, especially where 20 households of Dalit families were residing. (Dalit is the political name of the castes in India who were formerly considered “untouchable“ according to the Hindu varna system.) The only source of drinking water had dried up and the community was struggling. Women had to travel a long distance to fetch water, which increased their workload, adding to the burden of other household chores made more difficult under post-earthquake conditions.

Village members in Gatlang install over 700 m of tubing and a few water tanks to provide water to their village after their source dried up.

The “Quick Relief Activities” brought drastic, and positive, change to their lives. About 700 meters of pipe and a few water tanks purchased as part of the Quick Relief Activities brought a solution to these families. They buried the water storage tanks and connected water pipelines, bringing safe drinking water to their communities. Now they have enough water to drink, bathe and wash.

A family gets water from the newly installed pipeline.

Mr. Man Bahadur B.K was also delighted with this Quick Relief Activities support because it helped him construct a nursery for medicinal and aromatic plants (MAPs) within a 5-minute walk from his home. He planted Chiraito, Sugandhawal, Thulo Aausadhi, Lot Salla, Jatamasi, Aookeaalu and Aattish. He plans to cultivate these plants in his field next year and hopes that his MAPs business will help him recover his losses and begin a new, normal life with his family. These are just a couple of examples showing how our “Quick Relief Activities” not only solved pressing, immediate problems but also gave rise to possibilities for a better life and more sustainable livelihoods.

Chiraito, Sugandhawal, Thulo Aausadhi, Lot Salla, Jatamasi, Aookeaalu and Aattish -- profitable medicinal and aromatic plants.
Mr. Man Bahadur B.K, a MAPs farmer in Gatlang.

Medicinal and Aromatic plants (MAPS) in a post-earthquake world

Mingmar Chimo is a participant farmer in TMI's MAPs project. She started growing profitable plants three years ago on her land in Gatlang.

Mingmar Chimo of Gatlang (41 years old) is the mother of eight daughters and three sons. She is also one of the survivors of the devastating earthquake. Luckily, there was no damage to her Chiraito (Swertia Chiraita) farm—a Medicinal and Aromatic Plant (MAPs) project. Until three years ago, the only source of income of her family was from selling potatoes and beans. But then she started Chiraito farming on her parcel of land after getting training and seeds from TMI’s local partner RTEES—Nepal. This is the third year of her Chiraito farming and she is looking forward to the first earnings from her production. In addition to create a source of income for mountain families, the cultivation of MAPs is reducing pressure on fragile mountain habitats, contributing to the conservation of such vulnerable and endangered species as the red panda and musk deer.

Chiraito growing on a slope in Gatlang.

Though the earthquake did not damage her farm, she is still facing great challenges since there is no safe place to dry and store the crop that she will be harvesting in October/ November. Leaving the harvest out in the open could cause the Chiraito to rot. Presently she is living in a temporary shelter with her children and husband and she has no secure place for storage. The MAPs Cooperative, through which she was planning to sell her Chiraito, was also completely destroyed by the earthquake. However, Mingmar Chimo is hoping to get support for constructing a community storage house and cooperative before the harvesting season. This would support her family’s livelihood plus many others in her community.


Moving Forward

TMI and our local NGO partners have been coordinating with other organizations to support re-building efforts. We have participated in various Humanitarian Relief Meetings, and have consulted with international organizations working in the same districts such as Norlha, ASIA Onlus and others. TMI and our partners have also collaborated with government agencies in order to reduce duplication of efforts, identify gaps in the support needed, and leverage valuable resources.

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TMI is extremely grateful to the Blue Moon Fund, Fondation Pro Victimis, the European Outdoor Conservation Association, TMI Board Members, other foundations and many individuals around the world who have made donations to enable us to provide support for relief and re-building efforts. If you would like to lend your support to our continued work in these remote mountain communities of Nepal, please link here to The Mountain Institute’s NetworkForGood donation page.

Footnote: Thank you to Alisa Rai, Umesh Basnet, and Meeta Pradhan for the updates and photographs used in this story.