Grave situation in Sindhuli as recovery begins

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On 19 and 20 May, a team from ICIMOD visited four northern VDCs of Sindhuli District - Baseshwor, Bhimeshwor, Jalkanya, and Ratanchura - to distribute relief materials. ICIMOD and Helvetas are collaborating in Water Use Master Plan pilot studies under the Koshi Basin Program in these VDCs.

However, the Chief District Officer suggested to exclude Baseshwor VDC as there are already enough supplies from other organizations. The relief items distributed included 200 bags of rice, 200 kg lentil, 200 lit cooking oil, and 100 tarps for 200 households with about 1,000 people.

Formal and informal meetings were held with VDC authorities, Helvetas, local NGOs, and local leaders to ensure that the help reaches the needy people. The team visited the village of Ratatar in Bhimeshwor VDC. Ratatar sits on a mountain ridge and consists of 25 households of Hyau community, the most marginalized and vulnerable community in Sindhuli. The team found that all the houses were completely damaged and people are living in temporary sheds. Some innovative households have started building small huts using local materials. 

Ratatar village of Bhimeshwor VDC lies in ruins

Interacting with some women groups, single women, and lactating mothers, the team found that the post-earthquake situation was direr for them. Most of them were daily wage workers who lost their daily earnings immediately after quake. Children and elderly folks had difficult time sleeping in the temporary structures due to frequent rain, damp surface, and mosquitoes.  

Women also faced the challenge of scarcity and unavailability of drinking water for some days when the village water tank was damaged by the quake. They said they had to use whatever water was available to them, including water from the muddy pools left behind by the rains. They used cotton garments to filter the muddy water so that it could be used for drinking purpose. However, the water tank has been temporarily fixed by the villagers with locally available resources like mud and hay but a more permanent solution is needed.

Temporary shed where a pregnant woman is taking shelter

On the other hand, the villagers could hardly salvage anything from their granaries and are now completely dependent on food from the relief provided by the government and other organizations. Many want to rebuild their homes but are worried about finances. Some said they might have to sell part of their land (of which they had little) and single women were worried that there might not be any odd jobs in the village now. And those who sought shelter in downstream besi are concerned about being left out from receiving the relief. 

However, they continue to live in a close-knit community helping each other to rebuild their lives and homes.

In the meanwhile, people were very appreciative of the ICIMOD relief effort. This will certainly help during the piloting of WUMPs in these VDCs, especially given that the visit gave an opportunity to the ICIMOD team to experience first-hand people’s hardship and sorrows.

For more information, contact:

Santosh Nepal
Nilhari Neupane
Dipshikha Gurung