Development blues

Published On: April 10, 2018 01:00 AM NPT By: Jagat Basnet

Jagat Basnet

Jagat Basnet

The author is a PhD researcher at Rhodes University, South Africa

Our development initiative is creating more dependency and pushing for urbanization rather than developing rural areas

Some time back I, along with geologists, officials of National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) and Ward Chair of Uttargaya Gounpalika-1, walked four hours of painful steep hill from foothill of Goganebasi and reached Tiru, a panoramic village in Rasuwa.

And there I found what is wrong with our approach of development.  

After the great earthquake of 2015, most people in Tiru temporarily migrated to Khalde, Bogatitar, Naubise, Betrawati, Satbise, Simbutar and Inarpati of Nuwakot owing to the continuous aftershocks. Locals moved to these places to get relief supports from I/NGOs and government.

Why did they do so? “No one was coming here in Tiru for relief and support due to painful walk from the foothill. We have been receiving relief materials in lower part of Rasuwa and Nuwakot,” they said. 

Even now locals in Tiru are moving to Khalde, Bogatitar, Naubise of Ranuswa and Simbutar, Inarpati and Trisuli of Nuwakot. There were around 300 households in Tiru before the devastating earthquake shook the village. Now there are only few householders who have returned only to cultivate their lands. Even though Tiru is considered much safer as per geologists’ report and weather is perfect, local people are found to be leaving the foothill to get relief materials distributed by I/NGOs. Besides, it’s easier for them to get government support for relocation and resettlement. 

Set Bahadur Tamang, chairperson of Primary School Management Committee and local of Tiru said that he established primary school with the support of locals in Tiru.  He added that there were still 43 children in Tiru, but the school could not resume classes. Tamang talked to the District Education Office for this, but DAO officials appeared reluctant. They said, according to Tamang, it is no use resuming classes since all the people had already migrated downhill. According to Tamang, government and non-government organisations did not take his request to resume classes seriously. 

Tamang also said they did not have health post and agriculture support office nearby. For treatment, they have to go Betrawati, where I/NGOs and government are providing services so nobody prefers to go back to Tiru.   

As per locals of Tiru, each household owns more than 30 ropani (around 2 hectares) of land and they were producing more than 30 muri (around 2400kgs) maize and 30 muri (around 1800 kgs) potato. They did not have problem of fodder for buffalos/cows or sheep or goats.

Deserting hills 

 Most of the local people have temporarily migrated to foothills of Rasuwa and Nuwakot and some of them are doing sharecropping of middle and upper caste people of the districts.   

It’s almost three years since the devastating earthquakes, yet the sense of fear is still looming. They have not started reconstructing their houses due to slow government response. After all, I/NGOs are providing services in temporary settlements. 

I/NGOs are providing different types of relief materials and public service to the displaced people, but seem to be reluctant in going back to the place of their origin. It looks really funny that the locals in Tiru are not ready to back to their village. Even I/NGOs have been providing services along the accessible roadsides. 

But the locals think that the land price will almost double in a few years. The financial support that earthquake victims are getting has been used for buying lands. They are looking very small plots of lands to resale for profit. It is interesting that people are keeping their lands barren in the hilly areas. This shows that our development initiative is creating more dependency and pushing for urbanisation rather than developing rural areas as model village of economic development. 

When I asked why people left this panoramic place, local people said they were ready for new life where they can have access to relief funds and government grants.  

Tiru people demand five services:  road, electricity, school, health post and agriculture support office. None of these services are available at the moment, which is why they are migrating to urban areas. 

In my conversation with Tiru people, I realized that our reconstruction model is not in line with the sustainable rural development and that it is focused only on urban development. 

We are supporting and encouraging people to adopt urban lifestyle but our development activities are not tailored to support this.  Are we really serious about sustainable development? It is high time to think about the local development and bring the development activities to the far off corners to make federalism more meaningful and growth -oriented. 

 The author is a PhD researcher at Rhodes University, South Africa  

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