Trekking clothes, jackets and shoes, check. Backpack with utilities, check. Camera, check. Sleeping bag, check. Sunscreen and moisturizer, check. Light snacks for the trek, check. First aid kit, check.
If it’s your first trekking experience across the Himalayas, you want to make sure you have everything you need and to travel as light as possible. Anxiety, suspense, excitement and thrill are characteristic emotions that you must be experiencing. The enthralling Himalayan trek, scenic landscapes, rustic villages, everygreen rhodendrons and the varieties of pine trees are great encounters to look forward to; or at least that is what should be part of your itinerary.
On the 25th of April, 2015, Nepal, a country located in the Himalayan region was struck by an earthquake of a magnitude of 7.8 on the richter scale, killing thousands and demolishing more than half a million homes, most of them in rural areas cut off from emergency medical care. It was the worst natural disaster to strike Nepal since 1934. The earthquake triggered avalanches on Mount Everest and another in the Langtang valley which killed many foreign nationals who were holidaying/ on expeditions in the Himalayan region. Centuries-old buildings were destroyed at the UNESCO World Heritage sites in the Kathmandu Valley including numerous temples and other historic structures.
Ironically, just a week prior to the occurrence of this devastation, 50 earthquake specialists gathered in Kathmandu to devise a strategy on how to manage such an eventuality which they had long predicted would happen. GeoHazards International, a group that tries to minimize earthquake risk, estimated in a 2001 report that a similar quake to that of 1934 would kill 40,000, and in an updated report published in April, warned of the rising risks facing those living in the Kathmandu Valley where populations are growing at the rate of 6.5 per cent a year. In the Asian region, a person living in Kathmandu is about nine times more likely to be killed by an earthquake than a person living in Islamabad and about 60 times more likely than a person living in Tokyo’, the report found. Poverty, poor construction and planning and corruption added to the widespread destruction. Nearly 8500 plus people lost their lives, thousands more injured, missing and millions homeless. However, that was the least of Nepal’s problems for it experienced another earthquake of 7.3 followed by hundreds of aftershocks making it difficult to undertake relief and rescue operations.
The fate of the trekkers along the Himalayas was sealed on the 25th day of April, 2015 with many losing their lives, and several unaccounted for deaths. We as humans, always fall short somewhere in our preparations.
Unfortunately, it is disasters like these that make us realize the importance of construction planning, population control, infrastructure development, telecommunication, disaster mitigation and alternate energy resources. Technology may have advanced, people become richer, countries may have made peace, however we will one day have to pay for the consequences of our actions. Karma anyone?
The good people at Crisp Social Ventures India hear you. A project has been launched- PowerHouse, supported by( CSVI) which aims at conceptualizing and developing sustainable homes for India’s rural poor. Participate in the EOI or spread the word about the project and we’re certain this could help compensate for the not so great things you may have done in life up until now!
Watch the introduction to PowerHouse.