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Nepal after the quake: “It is unsafe for us to live here”

On Saturday it will be 50 days since the first earthquake hit Nepal. Less than two months have passed since the devastating quake, but already relief efforts are slowing down due to donor fatigue and tough regulations by the government. Photojournalist QAZI ZAID paid a visit to the district of Nuvakot to find out how people are coping. 

Figures by international agencies place the death toll from the quake at about 9,000 and close to 18,000 people have been reported injured. To put this into context: one-fifth Nepal’s population has been directly affected by the earthquake.

About 150km from Kathmandu and closer to the epicentre of the quake, many pockets in the Nuvakot district have 100% damage. People complain that they have not seen anyone from the government, apart from engineers who hung signs that mark buildings as “unsafe”.

While the worst hit areas of Sindhupalchowk and Gurkha have been the prime concern of the government and non-governmental relief organisation, the district of Nuvakot has been largely ignored.

1

A young woman runs past her destroyed house in the Gangdada village in the Haldekalika village development commnity in the Nuvakot district of Nepal. The destruction in this area of Nuvakot, which is 150km from the capital city of Kathmandu and closer to the epicentre of the quake, is close to 100%.

2

Villagers in Gangdada village Nuvakot, Nepal take refuge under a tree. One month on since the first earthquake shook Nepal, many still don’t have a place to stay. Like people in many parts of Nepal, people are still sleeping under the open sky.

3

Anma Mai, 80, from the Buddhist Tamang community takes shelter in a neighbour’s house that was fixed by the locals. Mai lost three members of her family in the earthquake, and is the only surviving family member.

4

A group of young men from the Tamang community play a local game called “pott”, a board game that resembles ludo, while taking shelter in the only house still standing in their community.

5Ramesh Giri stands in front of a school that was destroyed in the earthquake. Giri lost his daughter, who studied at the same school.

6Children outside a school in Haldekalika in Nepal marked “unsafe” by the government. Three children from the school died in the earthquake that took 9,000 lives.

7Children role play “teachers and students” in a destroyed school in Gangdada village. Many people have also taken shelter inside partially destroyed schools, which places their lives in danger.

10Ram Bahadur, 40, stands in front of his house in the remote area of Nuvakot, which was partially destroyed in the earthquake.

11Bahadur’s house lies in the middle on a crevasse that developed in the earth due to the earthquake and runs past his field and though his house. “Even a small aftershock or rain can cause a landslide here. It is unsafe for us to live here,” Bahadur says.

9
Villagers collect relief outside Shri Ganesh School in the Haldekalika village development community in Nuvakot, Nepal. Many schools have been turned into makeshift relief camps by local volunteers and relief organisations.

12

Traffic is halted while government officials clean the road that connects Nuvakot to Kathmandu. Landslides have been common because of continuous aftershocks and rains in Nuvakot, which lies in the surrounding hills of Kathmandu valley.

Qazi ZaidQazi Zaid is a freelance journalist and filmmaker from Kashmir. His recent work includes an award-winning documentary film on the September 2014 floods in Kashmir. He tweets at @angrykangri.
1 Comment
  1. Ashish says

    We saw what happened during the quake. But very few reported the aftermath and the relief ops followed. It’s sad to see that when we sit here in comfort there are People and neighbours out there who lack the basics. The situation now looks even challenging when the attention of media has slowed down in addition to the already affected rescue and relief ops. This piece by Mr. ZAID is a laudable attempt who made that effort to connect us to the victims whose plight seems to be much more than our fading interest and awareness.

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