As the ‘custodian’ of Mt Everest, the Nepal Government must make changes to how it manages the precious global resource. But far below, leaders are struggling to overcome other obstacles that block the country’s graduation from least-developing country status.
Earlier this month a National Geographic team set up the world’s highest weather station, very close to the peak of Mt Everest. Its purpose is to monitor the Central Asian Jet Stream, to see how winds and moisture move above 29,000 feet and affect the warming climate. In effect the multinational team has also opened a window to the land where glaciers are born.
With great potential for gleaning information about this much celebrated, increasingly exploited, but little known environment, the weather stations are a exciting advance. Yet you get the feeling that the die is already cast: like its neighbours in the Himalaya Hindu-Kush (HKH) range, Everest is melting.
2/3 of glaciers could melt by 2100
The worst-case scenario in a recent assessment predicts that two-thirds of glaciers in the HKH, which spans from Afghanistan to China, will melt by 2100. Earlier last week another team of scientists announced they found the internal temperatures of the Khumbu glacier on Everest to be higher than expected, just -3.3C. They predicted accelerated melting in the short term, followed by flooding, droughts and unstable, dangerous conditions for climbers.
This climate peril illustrates the double-barrel challenge facing countries like Nepal: they must provide the basics expected from an increasingly wealthy, globally-savvy population — such as infrastructure, health and education — and at the same time confront global threats like the climate crisis and deadly non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that bedevil rich and poor countries alike. Continue reading →
This photo was taken by Sushma, 15, from Sindhuli district in Nepal as part of a participatory photo project, organised by WaterAid UK. She said: “This is the girls’ toilet at our school. It doesn’t lock properly. If someone is inside, someone else has to wait outside, pushing the door. This is why we need more girl-friendly toilets.”
WASH stands for water, sanitation and hygiene. It doesn’t sound sexy, but when you think about it, those things are fundamental to our lives.
The link between WASH and education is not so evident, but it too is essential, this time for keeping students in school — especially girls and particularly when they reach the age of menstruation.
Nepal’s WASH statistics have been improving but it’s important that we don’t confuse facilities with functioning WASH systems, because in many cases water taps and bathrooms are on site but are not useable.
A municipality in Bara district, 60 km south of Nepal’s capital Kathmandu, is distributing chickens to new mothers and pregnant women. The local initiative to add protein to families’ diets is part of the national Multi-Sector Nutrition Plan, which I’ve written about previously.
Officials from Arun Rural Municipality in Nepal’s Bhojpur district give a rooster to a new mother on 29 March 2019. The programme to support new mothers started in January. Photo: The Himalayan Times
Time for me to walk my talk.
Following up on my last post about not dwelling on the negative in Nepal, I’m highlighting a very small but positive development. Municipal officials in Bhojpur district in the country’s east started a programme in January to visit new mothers.
Bayalpata Hospital Community Health Worker Bhajan Kunwar checks the blood pressure of Namsara Tamrakar at her home in Chandika village, Achham district, Nepal, Feb. 2018.
Below is the article I wrote for Nepali Times after visiting Bayalpata Hospital in Nepal’s Achham district. Achham is often described as “remote” but we drove there easily in 9 hours from a main city, paved roads all the way, and jolted by fewer potholes than you’ll suffer driving in Kathmandu.
I travelled to Nepal’s far-western district of Achham last week. Our main aim was to visit Bayalpata Hospital, a community-focused institution run by a US-based NGO called Possible, which is undergoing an impressive expansion.
More on that later. For now, here’s my small article about the revival of the airport in the town of Sanfbagar, near the hospital. From Nepali Times:
Marty Logan in Achham
Achham district, which is connected to the rest of the country through an arduous 8 hour journey from the Tarai, will soon revive its airfield in Sanfebagar.
Work to blacktop the runway, following a Maoist attack in February 2002, is ongoing, and the facility is expected to be ready before the rainy season. However, there are conflicting views about whether the airport will succeed. Continue reading →
This cartoon is from Nepal’s Republica newspaper, which has published many articles critical of INGOs working in post-earthquake aid and reconstruction.
International NGOs working in Nepal were severely criticised after the 25 April 2015 earthquake for not delivering what they promised, especially given the amount if money they raised through emergency appeals. Some criticisms continue.
This week I interviewed a representative of INGOs, who told me that any mistakes they made were due to the need to react quickly and save lives. Read more below.
Nearing the second anniversary of the 25 April 2015 earthquake, international NGOs say any flaws in their work stem from the need to act immediately, and the stifling bureaucracy of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA). Continue reading →