The craziness of monsoon, Nepal

I’ve alluded in earlier posts about the challenges the people of Nepal (and many other counties in SE Asia) face during monsoon time.  This year’s monsoon has killed over 50 people in Nepal, and there is another two months to go before monsoon is expected to end.  Landslides are frequent and have hit the Narayangadh-Mugling road multiple times so far this monsoon, where at least 10,000 vehicles ply back and forth every day.

Landslides on the Narayangadh-Mugling road. Photo credit My Republica

This road connects the country’s southern, eastern and western parts with Pokhara and Kathmandu and creates unbelievable havoc when it has to shut down.
Another factor to add to the mayhem in Kathmandu is the ongoing road works that have been underway for years now, aimed to install proper drainage systems and resurface the roads.  Private contractors are doing the work … or I should say won the contracts but are not really doing any of the work, just lining their pockets really. So here we are in the middle of yet another monsoon and  nothing much as changed.  Take a look.

Streets in Patan, a suburb of Kathmandu, flooded after monsoon rains. Photo credit The Sun Daily

Muddy and flooded road in Jorpati, another suburb of Kathmandu where many wheelchair users live. Photo credit Kathmandu Post

Not only is it warm and muggy monsoon time, but the garbage has not been collected in Kathmandu for over a month due to two factors – no more room at the landfill and the access road has been washed out.  So now there are piles of garbage mounting up all over the city, and not only does it stink to high heaven, it also means a serious threat to water-borne diseases.

Photo credit Kathmandu Post

To top it off, the city of Bhaktapur has been trashed with the Hanumante River having swollen it’s banks, after a night of fierce rain last Wednesday.  The Araniko Highway heading east is completely submerged with over 4 feet of water.  Fortunately my friends the Kayastha Family are not affected.

Flooding of the Hanumante River in Bhaktapur

Banepa, the town where I live for much of my time in Nepal is completely flooded but thankfully Lok and family’s home is on a higher elevation and so has not been affected.  Mind you the people living in makeshift tents and under tarps after losing their homes in the 2015 earthquakes suffered the brunt of this year’s flooding – enough already.

Flooding in Banepa. Photo credit Sapkota Rajan

I came across this little story which made me snigger a little.  The Traffic Police along the Koteshwor-Suryabinayak section of the Araniko Highway are attempting to ensure drivers stick to lanes by vehicle type, where the heavy trucks are to stay right and cars & motorbikes must stick to the left, with no overtaking.  I snigger only because first of all, the lanes are not always evident and when they are evident, no one really keeps to lanes.   The chances of vehicles sticking to their ‘lane’ are slim to none!  There’s also an attempt at educating jaywalkers – ha!  Good luck with that.  Read it here.
And finally on a positive note, a cool thing happened at the recent Turkish Airlines ENGAGE Empowering League in Kathmandu.  The tournament is a wheelchair basketball competition now in it’s third year with 134 players and more than 600 spectators and is getting noticed by the general population. 
In the past anyone with a disability was shunned across Nepal and it was for this reason Ram Bahadur Tamang was determined to complete his Wheelchair Yaatra in 2014.  Ram’s aim was to raise awareness and give hope to those with disabilities.  It is clear Ram’s yaatra has done it’s job.  One of the young players at the tournament was asked for his autograph by some adoring spectators.  Unheard of!  Read all about it here. 
Keep up your advocacy work Ram!

About Kate Coffey

After 30 or so years in the investment management industry, 2013 saw me turn my life up-side-down, making my way first to Nepal, then Bangladesh during that first ‘year away’. The year took me on a journey I did not expect, had me fall in love with Nepal and its people, and become inspired at the work of Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) located in Bhainsepati - 2 hours east of Kathmandu in the Saanga foothills. Since 2014, I have returned to SIRC numerous times, working closely with the folks there in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. In the past two years, my work in Nepal has expanded to the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation and the Spinal Cord Injured Network Nepal. In Bangladesh I marvelled at the strength and resilience of marginalized women who have the courage and audacity to break the rules and make a better life for themselves and their children through microfinance programs with BRAC. 2016-2017 saw me embark on a totally new experience in Sri Lanka, a place I never would have chosen to end up in. It’s the 40C+ heat, big humidity and tropical snakes & animals that scared me! But I ended up love love loving! my time there, working with predominantly Tamil small business owners in remote villages in the north and east of the country, trying their best to recover their businesses and the lives of their employees, after decades of a civil war. My time in Sri Lanka made me realize my hard-earned business skills and experience can really be put to good use! The work the BIZ+ team and I did there ended up earning me International Volunteer of the Year Award in December 2017, presented on Capitol Hill, Washington DC no less. I am currently home on Bowen Island, in the west coast of Canada, shoring up my finances before I head off to who knows where, for my next expert volunteer assignment. This blog initially started out as a travelogue of sorts to keep friends and family worldwide updated while I was off on my travels in 2013-2014. Since then it has morphed into a life story of the many places I have lived and worked and of the wonderful people I have met along the way. I hope you enjoy.
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