Sunday, 2 March 2008


A lot has happened since we last wrote. Life is moving along fast here and it already feels like we’ve been here ages. We’ve settled into our house really well, and have nearly finished our Nepali lessons, which means we can get back to teaching again!

One thing that has been really noticeable on the streets the last few weeks has been the petrol queues. Very little petrol and diesel has been getting into the city due to strikes in the Terai region. This is the strip of Nepal that runs between the border with India and the start of the hills. Most of Nepal’s natural produce comes from here and anything that doesn’t comes through here from India.

Last weekend the headline in the paper read “172 fuel trucks cross the border” which indicates how much of an issue this was. The fuel trucks needed armed escorts and the regions they drove through were put under curfew. The queues in Kathmandu have been miles long with people waiting over night, and even parking up their cars while the stations are shut, leaving them and coming back later to inch forward every now and then.

It’s not just petrol though; kerosene which most of the poorer Nepalese use for cooking creates queues almost as long. You pass a long line of petrol cans all tied together on a rope to stop others pushing in as people mill about waiting for the kerosene to arrive. There is also currently a three week wait for Gas canisters which are used for cooking and heating, although the weather is getting warmer now.

The shortage of fuel and problems in the Terai has meant that food prices have risen and shortages were predicted. The prices are still well below English prices, but for the poor this is little consolation as they are stretched even further. However there has been good news in the last few days as an agreement has been reached between the interim government and the parties representing those leading the strikes in the Terai.

Water and power are also in short supply. This has nothing to do with the problems in the Terai. It is partly to do with the lack of rain this winter (and last monsoon in the summer) as all of Nepal’s electricity comes from Hydroelectric dams. This means we currently have 8 hours of power cuts every day, 6 days a week. Wednesday is our best day as we have power all day. Our school survives using a diesel generator (although as the first part of this blog suggests this hasn’t been to reliable in the last few weeks) and our landlord uses an inverter (basically a big car battery) to supply us with a light or two when it gets dark. Again this is not an option for the poor.

The sad thing is that Nepal has one of the greatest potentials in the world for hydroelectric power, but just hasn’t got itself organised to tap that potential, mostly due to an inadequate infrastructure.

Dan & Becky

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