Saturday, July 23, 2016

Post-Quake Nepal Is Still Reeling 1 Year Later—For All the Wrong Reasons

Post-Quake Nepal Is Still Reeling 1 Year Later—For All the Wrong Reasons

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Corruption #Nepal — it isn’t what you think it is

#1 Impediment to Development = Corruption
#1 Enabler of Corruption = Foreign Aid

Vicious cycle — unfortunately overlooked by well-meaning people (I/NGOs — too many to keep track of, private donors, foreign agents andd governments, the United Nations, the World Bank, the IMF and so on) while corruption causes heavy suffering for 99+% of the people.
Foreign personnel often have their hearts in the right place, no question about that. A sprinkling of them understand native languages and some understand local cultures, too. The majority are operating under dead-blind conditions despite deep intellect, big hearts and some insight. Even with language and cultural skills nearly all get taken for a ride, so to speak, in other words, conned.
Exceptions are rare, and some people and organizations actually succeed and deserve a lot of respect for their hard work. They are too few and far between to justify aid across the board. Inadvertently, most are enabling corruption and holding back the only people who can ‘save’ Nepal – talented and capable Nepalis (countless in number) under the thumb of a corrupt and oppressive bureaucracy and societal structure paralyzed by entitlements.
It is the rich irony of the aid world that these foreign ‘aid’ workers/foreign donors and their internal, domestic allies tend to be from polar ends of the spectrum. Unsuspectingly, aid workers ally themselves with the more conservative demographic of the population (generally Hindu conservatives with a restrictive moral and elitist outlook…imagine Christian, Muslim, and Jewish conservatives for an idea of the unsavory impact of this alliance). All the same, most aid workers tend to be open-minded, liberal and intellectual.
Kind-heartedness allows many ‘aid’ workers to be unwittingly misled and is a reason aid should be banned for the sake of development. Taken as a WHOLE, aid undermines the very problems to be solved, tragically prolonging and extending suffering in the general population. Throwing the mutant baby out with the bathwater is perhaps the only hope for development in Nepal.
If foreigners must intervene, it they cannot keep themselves from getting involved, then, at a minimum, it is politely suggested to 1) learn the local language and 2) learn about the culture. Even then, chances of success are increased only slightly. If an outsider cannot resist doing something, then aim resources and energy at making government more transparent before and above anything else. Cleaning up the bureaucracy will take care of nearly all other problems. No need to fight tireless battles other than the one for a ethical, transparent government.
Nepal is full of talented and capable people ready, willing and able, waiting for a chance. There is no need of foreigners to get involved. Simply do nothing and get out of the way. On the other hand, foreign intervention and aid, by funding and legitimizing the status quo (knowingly — e.g., paying off officials for paperwork to operate as a person/INGO in-country — these official fees ‘disappear’ and go towards illegitimate activities as do ‘unofficial’ fees, and unknowingly– e.g., hiring the wrong people who feed them misleading information while fleecing them raw), undermining real work and progress, allying with religious-moral-elitist conservatives, taking attention away from the real problem of mis-governance, displacing internal workers, not understanding local language and culture and thus not understanding issues of the land and what can be done about them…for these reasons and more, foreign aid is prolonging development and contributing to chronic poverty and the troubles it brings of ill-health, malnutrition, lack of education, exploitation, injury, disease and premature death.
Most INGOs and donors are obstacles to forward progress and holding back the very people that can save Nepal – able and talented Nepalis under the thumb of an unethical bureaucracy, indecent politicians and oppressive societal structure.
Cheer up, the primary problem causing most other problems is corruption, and it can be served a death-blow by pulling the carpet of foreign aid out from under it.
One future day perhaps the following might be proclaimed:
#1 Champion of Development = Free, Fair and Transparent Bureaucracy and Society
#1 Enabler of Free, Fair and Transparent Bureaucracy and Society = Local People

Award winning journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas reports the following about aid in Africa: “Decades into political independence, many African governments remain reliant on foreign aid, yet often as soon as this aid arrives it is spirited away into the personal accounts of the leaders who are supposed to be looking after the interests of their people – and ironically many of those accounts are back in the West.
It is no surprise that many Africans are left asking the developed world: ‘Why do you frown publicly about corruption, yet turn a blind eye to its fruits?'”
More at How to Rob Africa

Without transparency and good governance, aid can be futile if not harmful and debilitating... Where is Nepal Aid Money Going?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Himalayan Truffles | Features | ECSNEPAL - The Nepali Way

Himalayan Truffles | Features | ECSNEPAL - The Nepali Way

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Porter Poety

Even though my soul has been torn, here I am laughing.
Even though my very being is in fragments, I have somehow survived.
As long as there is one drop of blood in my body,
Until life’s last instant, I will always foster this love.
When I die I will be thinking of it – my education. 
But now it is just a dream that cannot become reality. 
If I was a flower, I would bloom, but I cannot for all of the thorns. 
If my love was for anything else I could forget it.
I cannot forget my desire to learn, and the road is covered in thorns.
How can I laugh with my heart so filled with a love for learning? 
How can I laugh?
--Santaki B.K. (translation by B. Ayers)

Today, a Nepali’s morality
Only considers possessions.

Respected porters, brothers –
Today, a Nepali’s identity
Has become selfish.
Respected porters, brothers –
We’re only here as long as our physical health is.
Of course, we will become wealthy and happy.
Respected porters, brothers –
If your soul is content and peaceful
Your creativity can build a Taj Mahal!
Respected porters, brothers –
Make your hardship into a possession.
Soak this earth with your sweat.
Make a storehouse for your sweat.
-- Nanda Raj Rai (translated by B. Ayers

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Meal Gratitude

This food is the gift of the earth, the sky, the sun and much hard work. May we live in a way that is worthy of this food. May we transform our unskillful states of mind, especially ignorance, fear, lust, anger, sloth and delusion. May we eat only foods that nourish us and prevent illness. May we accept this food for the realization of the way of understanding and love.
- Mahayana Buddhist Blessing (paraphrased)

“If people knew the results of giving and sharing … Even if it were their last bite, their last mouthful, they would not eat without having shared, if there were some being to receive their gift.”Sakyamuni Buddha, Itivuttaka Sutta

Monday, November 17, 2014

Tyranny of Monsoon Leeches

Sanguivorous leeches thrive during wet conditions, vying for a trekker’s 10 pints of blood. During the monsoon, they are abundant in forests above 4000 feet (1200 m)…and the author once became attached to one at over 12,000 ft (3700 m). These jawed, terrestrial parasites (Gnatbobdellida of the suborder Hirudiniformes) are sensitive to light and attracted to movement, warmth, and by-products of respiration. Leeches can drop from vegetation or “crawl” in inch-worm fashion (by using suckers at each end of the body) up from the ground as well as attach from leaves or rocks. Leeches find hosts by detecting shadows, mechanical stimuli of vibrations and heat as well as chemicals (carbon dioxide and skin oils).

As ecto-parasites, they attach themselves by means of tiny teeth with sharp cutting edges. Although leeches feed off the blood of a host, bites usually go unnoticed because a concomitant anesthetic is released. They also disperse an anticoagulant (the peptide hirudin is in their saliva) to keep the prey’s blood flowing and eventually, will drop off once sated. This may take twenty to forty minutes or longer, in which time the leech can swell, bloated on the blood feast, many times in size.
A single feeding is enough to sustain a leech for several months and they burrow into the ground to survive long dry periods. Leeches are hermaphroditic and deposit eggs in a cocoon after copulation and exhibit advanced care of young not usually seen in the phylum Annelida. They also have modern day medical relevance and can be used during recovery in plastic and reconstructive surgery cases and are helpful in the drainage of pooled blood, especially to relieve venous congestion and maintain circulation.

To remove a leech in the wild, use the leading edge of a fingernail (or other flat object) scraped along the skin to dislodge the thinner, anterior end at the attachment site. Keep the wound clean. Other means of removal—such as pulling or using heat, salt, alcohol, or insect repellent—can cause the leech to release the contents of its stomach which contain bacteria and may infect the bite area. Jawed leeches are not known to be transmitters of disease, however, because of anticoagulants there might be considerable blood flow. Control the minute lesion with pressure, and watch for signs of infection later. Rarely, some people have an anaphylactic or other allergic reaction to leech bites, requiring serious medical attention.

If embarking on a monsoon trek, certain items of equipment are essential: a waterproof pack cover, sheets of plastic for porter loads, plastic bags for gear inside the pack, an umbrella, a hat with a brim, a walking stick, footwear with good traction and especially leech protection. The best preventive to bites is to cover the skin. However, leeches often find a way through clothing. Some insect repellents work when applied to boots, lower legs and exposed skin. “Anti-Leech Oil,” a potent elixir of five oils, is available in some pharmacies and shops in Kathmandu and at the Kathmandu Environmental Education Office (KEEP) in Kesar Mahal, Thamel. Other options include eucalyptus oil, lemon juice, or, in a pinch, smearing bath soap over dry skin. Leech-proof socks could be worn over regular socks. With preparation, a foray into the leech infested heights can be relatively terror free!

Climate Change vs. the Mighty Himalaya

The earth’s thermostat seems to have lost its bearings and the Himalayan region has seen disruption in critical monsoon timings and a marked retreat of glaciers.
There are nearly 3000 glaciers and 1500 glacial lakes in Nepal above 11,480 ft (3500 m). It is predicted that a 4°C rise in the global average temperature, which is within some projections for the end of this century, would eliminate these glaciers. According to the Nepal’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), the temperature in Nepal’s Himalaya may be increasing by an average of 0.04° Celsius per year.

Imja Glacier in the Everest Region of Nepal is considered to be one of the fastest-retreating Himalayan glaciers at approximately 243 feet (74 m) per year, and the decline is attributed to solar warming. Imja Tsho Lake has increased in size alarmingly over the last half century from mere melt ponds in the 1950s to a lake of nearly 0.38 square mile (1 km²), or 247.11 acres, with an estimated volume of 47 million cubic yards (35 million m³) of water and rising. Its moraine of rock and ice is considered unstable and a threat for a glacial lake outburst flood (GLOF).

If extensive, a GLOF could result in severe wreckage downstream. A 2002 report by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development (ICIMOD) and the UN Environment Program puts twenty of Nepal’s glacial lakes at risk for a GLOF, and Imja Tsho is considered the worst danger. According to Nepal’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), there have been more than fourteen GLOFs in Nepal. The most recent in the Everest Region was recorded in September 1998, which caused flooding on the Inkhu Khola. Other floods in that area include ones that damaged parts of the village of Ghat in 1985 and Pangboche in 1979. In May 2012, a massive landslide near Machhapuchhre (Fishtail Peak) in the Annapurna Region caused flooding on the Seti River and dozens of people perished.

Climate change is making its mark on mountaineering, too, “Climbing is becoming more and more dangerous because glaciers and snow are melting and rock is appearing and avalanches are more frequent. The impact is visible in the high Himalaya,” Ang Tshering Sherpa, President, Nepal Mountaineering Association.