Updates from Briddim, Syaphru and Timure VDCs, Upper Rasuwa.

11164657_10155602909460615_5346753646185220166_nMay 20, 2015.

An 8.5 ton shipment including rice, oil, salt, tarps and solar chargers reached over 350 households in Briddim, Timure, and Syaphru VDCs. The first lot in Syaphru was ably distributed under the leadership of Akio ‘Prachanda’ Asahara, who claimed ‘Malai ta yaha ko biralo ko naam pani thahacha’. He proved it in his super-efficient, precisely documented distribution of relief materials among the wards of the villages surrounding Syaphru and Briddim. Aregato!
Thanks to the unreliable brakes of one of our trucks, however, we rolled into Syaphru so late it was dark by the time we headed to Timure along the road recently cleared by China’s road repair detachment. Understandably, our driver freaked out when he saw one of the landslides past Ling Ling (the same one we walked over last week) was still ‘active’ – spitting rocks onto the road. We beat a reluctant, hasty retreat to Syaphru and its own active landslide and organised another truck for 8 the next morning.
Come morning, guruji was nowhere to be seen. His services had been hijacked by another relief operation led by lamas from Kathmandu to Timure, and it was noon by the time he returned (after a tree was removed from the road by the Nepal Army). We got to Timure early afternoon and negotiated slightly suspect expanding and contracting lists of households commandeered by local elites before distributing our goods to the good people of Timure by 5, by which time another, larger truck from another Lama sangh had arrived. The local hydro project had also provided relief the day before.
By noon the next day, as we readied ourselves to leave following a visit to observe the impressive, highly risky Chinese effort to clear the landslide that buried an estimated 25-30, another truck led by Bibeksheel Nepal had come and gone. As we lunched on dust in the back of a tipper on our way back to Dhunche, we passed several other convoys headed at least to Syaphru, and more on our way to Kathmandu, including from Action Aid, Goal, and a truck stuck on the road, all the way from Birgunj.
Both in Timure and Dhunche, police and army clearly indicated that privately organised relief was excessive, uncoordinated and liable to lead to dependency. In the case of Timure VDC at least, we have to agree. We strongly recommend curtailing food aid here. Each household on the list has in the first couple of days received several tarps and several sacks of rice (and counting). Battalion Commander in Dhunche Lt Col Laxman Thapa has requested that all such initiatives let the CDO/LDO know that such and such aid has been delivered, even if they prefer to distribute themselves, so the state can better coordinate efforts to needy areas. If we do not go on record, we are not on anyone’s records except that of our own, and that will inevitably lead to duplication. Good intentions need to be backed up by better coordination. Lesson learned, we hope.¬†The landslips are still active, so clearing will be required up to Syaphru every now and again. They are planning to stabilise the main slide at the border with a buffer zone above it, which means they will not be excavating the mass of rock and human/material remains in its entirely, as the customs and clearance agents might prefer. A high-level security meeting took place yesterday to decide on future road clearing activities. There is talk of moving the customs house to Timure, due to the risk posed by landslides.

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