The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has joined hands with Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN) and Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA) to transport humanitarian assistance to far-flung villages in six earthquake-affected districts – Gorkha, Dhading, Rasuwa, Nuwakot, Sindhupalchowk and Dolakha.
TAAN will work for the provision of logistic services in four districts – Gorkha, Dhading, Rasuwa and Nuwakot, while NMA will look after two districts – Dolakha and Sindhupalchowk, WFP officials told a press meet in Kathmandu on May 28.
TAAN is beginning its works in Dhading immediately as a pilot project, while NMA will begin its work in Dolakha district as a pilot project.
As per the agreement, WFP will deliver humanitarian cargo to mutually agreed locations where the porter services will commence expeditions. These locations, referred to as ‘Base Camps,’ will be located in areas accessible by road or by large helicopter, and will be agreed upon by TAAN, NMA and WFP prior to commencement of operations. Similarly, WFP, in consultation with TAAN and NMA, will be responsible for determining the amount of cargo to be delivered to each location. TAAN and NMA will use mobilize workers, including tourism workers who have lost livelihood due to early conclusion of tourist season because of the earthquake, to clear trails and transport WFP’s assistance to all families in the affected villages in coordination with secretaries of concerned ward offices.
Commenting on the agreement, Richard Ragan, WFP Emergency Coordinator for the Earthquake Response in Nepal, said: “This is a unique effort by the World Food Programme. Together, we’re opening up trails that have been made inaccessible so we can deliver food and much-needed relief supplies and we’re employing a large labor force of porters who have lost their livelihoods as a result of the early conclusion of the tourist season.”
Similarly, TAAN President Ramesh Prasad Dhamala said the program will help in tourism recovery by opening blocked community trails and providing livelihood to local community as well as deliver humanitarian assistance to affected people. He further added that TAAN would implement the program by maintaining transparency and following existing rules and regulations.
NMA President Ang Tshering Sherpa thanked WFP for entering into a partnership with TAAN and NMA for providing humanitarian assistance to people in hilly and mountain areas of the country which have suffered the most from the earthquake.
The devastating earthquake of April 25 has claimed more than 8,000 lives, destroyed more than 300,000 houses and rendered hundreds and thousands of people homeless. Though the government and different organizations have been distributing humanitarian assistance in different quake-affected districts, many villages, which do not have access to roads, are yet to get sufficient relief materials. It is becoming difficult to distribute relief material in these villages as community trails in these villages have been destroyed by the earthquake.
Khumbila Samrakshan Pratisthan (KSP) has distributed relief worth Rs 2.5 million to earthquake-hit people in Kathmandu Valley as well as six other districts — Sindhupalchowk, Kavre, Dolakha, Dhading, Solukhumbu and Gorkha.
At a press meet organized in Kathmandu on Friday, Zimba Zangbu Sherpa, president of KSP, said the organization distributed food materials, tents and tarpaulin sheets, clothes and blankets, medicines and toiletries, playing materials and solar light system, among others to the affected family. “We swung into action right after the earthquake. In many villages, we were the first group to reach the quake-hit people with basic relief materials,” Sherpa said, adding that his organization also organized free health clinic in different earthquake affected areas.
At the program, Sherpa handed over Rs 316,500 to Karma Lama of Langtang who lost his home and family members in the earthquake. Similarly, he provided Rs 60,000 to the family of Chhiring Namgyal Sherpa, Rs 110,000 to the family of Lhakpa Phuti Sherpa, who lost her son in the Everest avalanche, Rs 50,000 to trekking guide Bhola Ghimire and Rs 25,000 to trekking guide Chitra Subedi.
Sherpa also announced to provide Rs 60,000 a year to support education of late Chhiring Namgyal Sherpa’s daughter.
Established in 2012, KSP has been helping in number of projects in different parts of the country. It is working on developing home-stay tourism in Salyan village of Kaski and developing Jhule village of Kathmandu as a model ‘Khumbila Village’, according to a press statement distributed at the program.
Tourism stakeholders have formed a joint committee of government officials and private sector to work for minimizing the impact of earthquake of April 25 on Nepali tourism industry and bring the industry toward normalcy.
The Tourism Recovery Committee (TRC), which is led by Tulsi Prasad Gautam, director general of Deparment of Tourism (DoT), will study the impacts of the tragic incident on the tourism industry, identify short-term and long-terms works needed to be done, formulate necessary program for recovery, and make necessary suggestions to concerned government agencies for speedy recovery of the tourism industry, according to a press statement issued on May 7.
The committee will also recommend to the Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) to do the needful for disseminating positive messages about Nepal in the international market. It also aims to work in coordination with other associations, organizations and agencies for other needful works.
The stakeholders also decided to make preliminary assessment/field study of hotel sector in coordination with Hotel Association of Nepal (HAN), cultural heritage sites in coordination with Nepal Association of Tours Operators (NATO), and trekking trails in association with Trekking Agencies’ Association of Nepal (TAAN). The committee hopes that the outcomes of the preliminary assessment/field study will help to rebuild tourism products, conserve them, and promote them in the international market.
Presidents of HAN, Nepal Mountaineering Association (NMA), TAAN, Nepal Association of Tours and Travel Agents (NATTA), NATO, PATA Nepal Chapter and Society of Travel and Tour Operators Nepal (SOTTO Nepal) are members of the committee. Similarly, one director-level staff each from Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) and Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) are also in the committee as members. Administrative Chief of Nepal Tourism Board (NTB) Ramesh Kumar Adhikari is the member-sectary of TRC, while PATA Nepal President Suman Pandey is the spokesperson.
TRC has opened its secretariat in NTB premises. A three-member team led by Deepak Raj Joshi, senior officer of NTB, will look after daily activities of the secretariat. PATA Nepal CEO Jyotsna Khadka and Reshma Singh of NATO are also in the secretariat team.
Altogether 218 foreigners of 33 countries were affected in the massive earthquake that hit the country on April 25.
According to statistics complied by Tourism Information Coordination Center, 57 have died, 52 are injured and 109 are missing.
Of the deceased, 40 are from India, four from the US, three each from France and China, two from Italy and one each from Australia, Estonia, Germany, Japan and Spain.
Similarly, of the injured foreigners, 10 are from India, nine from China, six from France, five from Italy, four each from Australia and Germany, two each from the Netherlands and the US, and one each from Canada, Denmark, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Russia, Sweden, Turkey and the United Kingdom.
Likewise, of the missing foreigners, 15 are from France, 12 from Russia, 10 from Canada, nine from US, eight from Spain, seven from Germany, three each from China, Czech Republic, Indonesia, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, two each from Israel, Malaysia and the Philippines, and one each from Australia, Austria, Belgium, Chile, Lebanon, New Zealand and Poland. Similarly, the nationality of eight missing tourists has not been ascertained yet.