Report by Nadine Plachta

Das Leben hier scheint sich zunehmend zu normalisieren. Heute bin ich das erste Mal nach Boudha gefahren. Dort haben sogar die Souvenirläden wieder geöffnet. Und es war möglich, nachmittags noch frische Milch zu kaufen. Überall sieht man Wassertanker.
Die Zeitungen berichten, dass es der Armee gestern gelungen ist, noch zwei Menschen lebend aus Trümmern in Gongabu zu befreien. Hier ein Blogbeitrag von Carole McGranahan in Savage Minds, ein Gruppenblog, der über aktuelle Themen in der Sozialanthropologie berichtet:

Und ein Update einer Doktorandin aus Humla, die im Juni in unserer Lecture Series vortragen wird: There was a district-level committee meeting yesterday in Simikot, where representatives from all areas of Humla were in attendance. The official word is that no casualties resulted in Humla District as a results of the earthquake, and as far as everyone can tell, there has been no structural damage. Rockfall and landslides, however, do continue to persist, especially in Upper Humla (in the area between Simikot and the China/Tibet border). This winter was very harsh in Humla – snow continues to fall in the villages above 12,000ft. Since the earthquake, everyone here has been on high alert, and travel between villages is being kept to bare necessity. Although people here in Simikot are thankful that there was no earthquake damage in Humla, prayers and thoughts continue to all of those that were not so lucky.
Austin Lord, Fulbright Research Fellow in Nepal, schreibt folgendes über die gegenwärtige Situation in Kathmandu und die Wichtigkeit, die hart getroffenen Bergregionen zu unterstützen:
To be clear.
Kathmandu is not just a pile of rubble. Don’t believe the hype. Without dismissing the very real needs of some people, the damage is remarkably, fortunately, and unexpectedly limited compared with the possibilities and most importantly with other parts of Nepal. Though the cultural loss in certain places is truly devastating (i.e. Bhaktapur, Patan, Kathmandu Durbar square) most of Kathmandu is still standing and still functioning, most of the roads are fine. Further, Kathmandu has a lot of help – there are a lot more aid workers, politicians calling for resources, volunteers, and (ahem) photographers in the city. I say this because most current international media continues to reinforce longstanding spatial biases: that there is Kathmandu, Everest, and the rest of Nepal, only vaguely referenced or understood. My point in saying this, to reinforce what others wiser and more experienced have said: the rest of Nepal is where the problems post-earthquake are most pressing, where little attention has been given to the conditions of marginal Nepalis, and where help is greatly needed in the immediate.
Moving away from the city, even on the outskirts of the Kathmandu Valley in places like South Lalitpur, the situation quickly worsens. Despite proximity the ‚friction of distance‘ is high and information is poor. Impassible roads and the needs of communities along the way compound to make the delivery of aid very difficult. Very remote areas that were highly affected by the quake are currently understood predominantly as the site of evacuations. Certain charismatic places have a following, and may receive aid from people with fond memories (a good thing) but there are others where foreigners do not frequently tread that are in perhaps greater need. In Rasuwa, the area where I was during the earthquake, a majority of houses have collapsed; landslides have created significant and perhaps lasting conditions of food insecurity; intensive patterns of out-migration have limited local manpower resources; and the monsoon is coming fast, which may bring a renewed round of threats. The Langtang Valley has been in the media somewhat, mostly due to the presence of foreign trekkers, yet many of these reports are already proving to be brief and incorrect. Meanwhile the rest of Rasuwa is barely discussed; there is a micro-politics of exclusion. I say this just as an example, not to claim that Rasuwa needs aid more than places in Gorkha or Sindhupalchowk. The need is severe across the board, and a great deal of information on the homeless, injured, and at-risk is lacking in all these places. The point is that once evacuation needs lessen, Kathmandu empties, and media attention subsides, the hardest work begins again in rural areas, more challenging now than ever before.
I do not mean to dismiss the good work that many are doing in Kathmandu, and of course there is a great deal of nuance elided by any characterization. Undoubtedly, Kathmandu is the epicenter of other disasters of social and environmental justice worsening now post-earthquake, and there are, of course, marginalized populations in the city bearing a greater part of the suffering. The city has its own needs – urban planning and public health central among them – perpetuated by wicked problems of social inequality and political instability/corruption; however most of these are (unfortunately) beyond the scope of the current moment. Rebuilding is one thing; building resilience is quite another. Efforts toward the latter are far more important in the long-term, and that begins in the less glamorous „rest of Nepal“. My point is simply – that many people are already doing work and financing relief efforts in KTM, so it is worth trying to do something slightly different. As many have said for years: Nepal (and again, especially Kathmandu) does not need money thrown at it. The aid-development complex has squandered billions of dollars in past years, and there are significant patterns of malfeasance, governance failure, corruption, and bloat that threaten to dilute your donations. There are reasons that people living in rural areas have a deep distrust of central government. Kathmandu will get money, it always does.
On a related note: starting tomorrow, I will be working with a group here in Kathmandu to try to source information about rural areas in Nepal, to provide data that will facilitate coordination in areas that are currently blank spots on maps. This is no easy task, and I am not sure the extent to which the project will succeed. But I feel strongly that good data on conditions, needs, and resources can help foster an effective and prioritized system of aid that is a) more fair, b) more accountable, and c) more able to counter embedded problems of visibility.
As such, I would ask you to support aid organizations with a focus on rural areas, to dedicate your relief efforts and financial support to specific causes and organizations with a grounded and ongoing long-term commitment, and to consider shifting your attention to other high-priority places that are less visible. Nepal needs a great deal of different kinds of help and there are many opportunities to try to help. But some will help a great deal more than others, some are much more unique and therefore important. Choose wisely. I say this to shine more light outside the city, on places which are currently largely in the dark.
But again: please help.
And, if you are in a position to do so, please provide me with the best information you have on the status of rural areas of Nepal from where you or your loved ones have been evacuated.
Beste Grüsse, Nadine Plachta