Achham rising

Sanfebagar_Airport_construction_SMI 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

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INGOs in Nepal positive about post-earthquake performance

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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.

A shorter version of the article was published in Nepali Times.

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

Whose story is it anyway?

 

LoveInBinauna

Female community health volunteers (FCHVs) from Binauna VDC having a laugh – at my expense if I remember correctly.

Please indulge me as I navel-gaze briefly.

I last worked full-time as a journalist in 2007, but I’m proud to tell people that I think I’ll always be a journalist at heart. One implication is that when I visit a place like Binauna VDC*, in Banke district in south western Nepal, I am automatically sniffing for stories. Continue reading

Interview with Nepal’s health minister

Gagan ThapaMy interview with Nepal’s health minister, Gagan Thapa, is in this week’s Nepali Times. Video is also available on that page.

Thapa was a rising star when I last lived here and has become Nepal’s youngest cabinet minister. Continue reading

Nepal: the road to …

raptibridgesm

I’ve been back in Nepal for nearly two months now, eager to write about what I’m seeing and hearing but reluctant to come to any premature conclusions.

So instead, I’ll present some impressions, like this photo (above) of a bridge over the Rapti River in Dang district, which I took last weekend. Continue reading

Frustration and despair in Nepal

During my recent trip to Nepal I couldn’t resist the invitation to write an article for my former employer, Nepali Times, about my impressions on returning to the country after nearly 5 years.

As yet another deadline (Jan. 22) approaches to write a new constitution, my feelings weren’t positive.

Nepal’s journalists still targets of political parties

Two dozen journalists in Far West Nepal were forced to flee their towns and villages last week after threats from individuals linked to the Maoist party that rules from the capital Kathmandu.

Read this summary from the Committee to Protect Journalists.

This sort of political interference in Nepal’s media has been going on for years – practised by all political parties – and, sadly, shows little signs of improving. When I lived in Kathmandu (2005-10) I participated in a few of the numerous meetings between the international community and media organizations to try and find solutions to the problem but none of them seems to have had much impact.

Nepal was ranked 118th among the world’s countries in the World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders on Wednesday, a drop of 12 places from 2011.

“The ability of journalists to work freely in Pakistan and Nepal continued to worsen in the absence of any government policy to protect media workers.”

– World Press Freedom Index, 2012.

Why are Nepal’s political players able to target the country’s journalists with such impunity? Is it because the tiny country is such a minor player in the world that the international community doesn’t really care? Or the inverse: that because Nepal is situated so strategically – between China and India – and is used to playing the Asian giants off of one another, that it has no fear of threats from the rest of the international community?

Whatever the cause(s), it is beyond time that Nepal’s journalists were able to practise their trade without fearing for their lives.