August 19

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Terrains of Nepal:

Before I write about my trip to the far west (my next blog), I thought it would be remiss of me not to mention the devastating floods that the country has seen over the past week. You may not even be aware of this as from what I can see the International coverage has been low.

Hundreds of thousands of people have been affected with 35 out of 75 districts impacted (around 30% of the country is flooded); including some of the districts where CARE projects (and CARE-GSK partnership projects) are currently active.

Now often when you think of Nepal, it is the mountainous region that comes to mind; with the Himalayas, Sherpas, Yaks and the elusive Yeti but in fact that are 3 types of terrain here:

  • The mountainous region: I’d like to say I’d taken this picture after trekking to the top of Mount Everest but of course in reality it is taken from the window seat of the plane, as I was flying west – those of you who know your Nepali geography will realise it is therefore not Everest.

Mountains from plane

  • The hills: Which in reality are probably higher than our UK mountains and are lush, green and leafy but difficult terrain to navigate without tarmac roads (much of the Far West – more about that in my next blog)

View in Doti       Me in Doti

  • The Terai: This is the region of low lying plains where the land is fertile and productive. Many of the crops are produced here, including the staple food rice which is seen growing in this picture. It is the Terai region that has been impacted by the floods.

Terai August

The way that CARE works is to form partnerships with local NGOs in each region to help mobilise projects, increase their partners’ capabilities and support the interaction between the government/ district / local authorities, the health centres (in the case of GSK-CARE health projects) and the community. The focus is on empowerment, relationship and capability building of all involved.

Due to these existing relationships it has meant that CARE have been able to mobilise quickly and respond to the floods, sending teams to the areas where their projects exist to help with the immediate relief effort although getting sufficient emergency supplies to people is a continuing challenge.

As is this case in these situations, it is the poorest, most vulnerable that have been most affected and will continue to be so for months and even years to come. Living a hand to mouth existence when your home and belongings are swept away, your livelihood destroyed (~80% of crops have been wiped out) and you are surrounded by stagnant water increasing the risk of disease must be a truly fear-ridden, grief-stricken place to be.  And I cannot imagine how I would feel in those circumstances….my comparisons from the UK just don’t seem to cut it.