Posts Tagged ‘Nepal’

Corruption in Nepal: Tragedy and opportunity

May 3, 2015
Nepalese girls who survived at the epicentre of earthquake

Nepalese girls who survived at the epicentre of earthquake

Nepal has a bad reputation for inefficiency and corruption, and its government is divided. That’s why Nepal’s vibrant civil society is likely to bring the most effective, life-saving support for many citizens.
 — Avaaz

In amongst the tragedy of the earthquake that hit Nepal last weekend, it has thrown into sharp focus the level of corruption and inefficiency  in Nepal.

Aid flights have not been able to get in, when they do get in, they are hitting bureaucracy and the aid is not being shifted.

Alongside the one and only runway in Kathmandu, a golf course.

WTF. What does this say about one of the poorest countries in the world, the sight that greets you as you fly in is a golf course?

Well meaning fools, who do more harm than good, are arranging shipment of goods to Nepal.

Anyone who has been involved in disaster relief will tell you, do not send goods, it does more harm than good.

The local economy has taken a hammering, shipping in goods hits local businesses.

Always send money.

Goods wherever possible, are bought locally.

Shipping in goods, often the wrong goods, leaving shortage of what is needed.

Logistics gets jammed.

Already Kathmandu Airport is log-jammed. Essential aid is not getting through.

Therefore please, if wish to help, send money to a recognised relief charity such as Red Cross. Do not donate goods, to make yourself feel good, but make matters worse.

Agencies like Red Cross, have warehouses stocked, all they need is money.

If you have goods, give to a local charity, if food, to a local  food bank.

Disaster gives rise to opportunity.

Nepal has a very rigid caste system. It needs to be reformed.

Those who fought for the British as mercenaries, who now live in Britain on state handouts where they bring shame upon themselves, could, if they returned to Nepal, help to rebuild the country, the money they would receive from their British Army Pension, would be spent in the local economy.

Himalayas is a new mountain range. Global warming is causing an increase in earthquakes. Modern houses were not built to withstand earthquakes. New houses using traditional building methods and materials are needed, better able to survive earthquakes.

Extract from a report by Abarai on reaching the village of Dhawa,  beautiful village in Gorkha, a village that had 600 houses:

We focused on providing them shelter as we realized that it was the most necessary thing at that point. There were not many casualties and injuries hence; medical support was not of primary need at Dhawa. We designed a thorough plan on how to execute this relief mission. First we sent our volunteers to each of these wards, collecting data on the number of houses that were completely destroyed (these were people living meager lives and we wanted to reach them immediately). We also collected data on the number of people these families had, in order to provide tents that could meet their requirements. We then made teams which comprised of local representative and our volunteers and dispatched them to each of these wards to provide the tents.

We were really concerned about how people could misunderstand that mud houses are very fragile and prone to disaster. So we studied the building and realized that falling of a house depends on its structure rather than the material. We had a 50 years old building standing intact; why was it different? It was exactly same as other fallen houses in the village but what supported it was a strong wooden beam that strongly held the materials together.

We have come so far and touched lives of thousands of people here. Now we have a vision of rebuilding these fallen villages, we do not want to see concrete buildings replacing the age old architectural beauty. We would love to have architects as volunteers who could help us study more and document on what kind of structure failed and why.

Please understand: Concrete Village is not the solution.

When Abari arrived in Dhawa, they found the school they had built was one of the few buildings that has survived.

Abari is a socially and environmentally committed research, design and construction firm that examines, encourages, and celebrates the vernacular architectural tradition of Nepal. As Nepal posses sophisticated traditional knowledge of natural materials like adobes, bamboos, stones and reed, Abari as a research and design firm tries to promulgate these materials into contemporary design practices.

Abari has put all its projects on hold whilst it focuses on disaster relief, but they also show where the future lies.

Information placed in the open commons, not locked away with intellectual property rights, is available to help others rebuilding after earthquakes in other parts of the world.

The opportunity arises to rebuild from grass roots, to create social enterprises, open co-ops, to rebuild the commons.

Avaaz is supporting a grass roots initiatives led by Abari, to rebuild communities in remote areas.

Avaaz admit, that supporting local groups like Abari entails risk, but with that risk comes the possibility of a huge reward.

When a cyclone hit Burma in 2008, Avaaz raised two million dollars that was smuggled in through a network of monks working outside of the corrupt government system. For some, this bold tactic led to the only life-saving aid they ever saw.

I stand with Nepal

May 2, 2015
Nepalese girls who survived at the epicentre of earthquake

Nepalese girls who survived at the epicentre of earthquake

When the ground shakes , cracks and crumbles
Life and hope tumbles down
The echo of help come from a distance
And under the rumble the shrieks drown
The tremors tremble the humanity
The dance of destruction resembles insanity
Death and devastation everywhere but hope rests upon a tongue
I fought ,I will fight is the song that somewhere a human sung.
When the rage stops and hope rains in

We will rebuild from the scratch and a new dawn will set in.

— musings of 

This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

Himalayan Java coffee shop

November 18, 2014
cosy seating area

cosy seating area



A Nepalese friend had asked, have you visited the Nepalese coffee shop?

I replied no, I did not know there was one.

She told me me where to find it.

I then had to make several visits, as it was always closed.

One day I found it open, a man who seemed to know nothing about coffee, but then he did not seem to understand English either.

Another visit, and I found a young Nepalese guy, who seemed to be running it. He was quite helpful. As they were closing, we had a long chat, he said come back when they were open. He told me they closed at five o’clock.

Today, I find them open, but even then I thought they were closed. It looked very dark, either they have tinted windows or very dull lights. Maybe both.

I tried a cappuccino. It was not good, very bitter, though not as bad as coffee at Costa, to be worse they would have to be serving ditch water.

Why it was unpleasantly bitter, I do not know. Too many factors:

  • poor quality coffee
  • roasted at too high a temperature
  • prepared too hot
  • lack of skill of barista

The coffee is grown in Nepal at high altitude. Not a country associated with coffee. If it is sustainable, fair trade, then provides an income for a very poor country, stabilises the mountainsides. If cutting down trees for coffee then very bad.

It would also be worrying if farmers were being persuaded into growing cash cops rather than food crops. Grow food, then an extra cash crop. Grow cash crops and you are not in control, you are dragged into the cash economy from sustainable agriculture, at the whim of world markets over which you have no control. That it is government agencies promoting coffee growing, as get rich schemes, should sound alarm bells.

Nepal now has 1,700 hectares of coffee plantation, more than 10 times the area 20 years ago, when coffee cultivation started picking up. Coffee is now being cultivated in 25 districts in the country and last year, Nepal exported about 400 tonnes of coffee beans, 30 times what was produced two decades ago.

In the Himalayas, heavy precipitation during the winter falls as snow. It is slowly released during the spring and summer as glaciers melt. If, as is happening, the glaciers melt, flooding, landslides during the winter, drought during the summer.

Vietnam, not a traditional coffee growing country, was persuaded by the World Bank to grow coffee. Vietnam became the world’s second biggest grower of coffee (after Brazil) causing the world coffee price to collapse, leaving the Vietnamese farmers destitute. Vietnam, not a traditional coffee grower, was encouraged by the World Bank to grow coffee, with guaranteed contracts and prices. Ten years on, when Vietnam was ready to sell, there were no buyers. Vietnam flooded the market with coffee. Vietnam is now the second biggest producer after Brazil!

The coffee is roasted in Nepal, then airfreighted to UK.

If roasted, used within one week of roasting, optimum for next three weeks.

I noticed there were bags of coffee displayed on a shelf. I did not ask if they were for sale, or check roast dates.

The barista had been trained by someone who previously worked for Starbucks. Not exactly inspiring confidence. Also, unless she is working alongside skilled baristas, who will nurture, she will not improve.

The coffee is ground, then left. No, it should be freshly ground for each fresh coffee.

The coffee was served too hot (which may also in part explain the bitterness).

If using Harris + Hoole Guildford as a benchmark, then a very long way to go, let alone Jimmy Bean or Taylor St Baristas or Stokes on High Bridge.

But then this is Aldershot, they probably would not know quality coffee if it leapt up and hit them in the face.

Very tiny, a little cosy seating area, free wifi (which I did not try), fresh home made cakes (but no cookies which go with coffee), free out-of-date English and Nepalese newspapers (but please do not insult with the Sun).

The location is not good, in the entrance to a grotty shopping centre in a run-down street. Ok, everywhere in Aldershot run down, but the pedestrianised area better (though probably more expensive).

It shuts at five o’clock, which is quite early. In the summer needs to be open until six o’clock or even seven o’clock.

Potentially could be a pleasant little coffee shop, but for the location, and they have a long way to go to improve the quality of their coffee.

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