| May 19, 2019

Landslide-hit village reliant on air transport of essential goods

Surendra Paudel/Republica Locals of Sertung, Dhading, unloading corrugated zinc sheets collected by Acted Nepal, which was delivered to the place by WFP helicopter on Wednesday. Surendra Paudel/Republica Locals of Sertung, Dhading, unloading corrugated zinc sheets collected by Acted Nepal, which was delivered to the place by WFP helicopter on Wednesday.
SERTUNG, Dhading, Aug 6: Jethi Maya BK, 30, is worried how to get proper medical treatment for her 11-year-old son who broke his ankle two days ago.

Officials at local health post that has run short of basic medical supplies suggested her to take her son, Sukh Bahadur, to a good hospital in the district headquarters, if not in Kathmandu.
"The staff at the Sertung health post suggested that I take him to good hospitals. I am worried lack of proper treatment may render him lame forever," said Jethi Maya as she sought help with officials from the World Food Program (WFP) that has been helping to ferry basic humanitarian items such as corrugated zinc sheet and other food and non-food items to the area.

Jethi Maya wanted her husband to take her eldest son to Dhadingbesi for proper medical treatment as the foot trail to the district headquarters remains damaged by the landslide. Before the landslide damaged the route, the villagers could reach the district headquarters in one day, but the journey now takes three days.

As there are no proper trails and there are fears of sudden landslides on the sloppy mountains, heading for the district headquarter carrying a patient on the back is next to impossible.

"Can you provide a lift to my husband and son to Salyantar?" she pleaded before WFP officials. "If you helped us, my son will not be lame," she further said.

The WFP cargo helicopter made four sorties to Sertung on Wednesday alone to deliver corrugated zinc sheets to Chalish village of Sertung VDC-4 in the district.

Norbu Tamang, 32, of Sertung VDC-6 said they used to reach Ghyansang in five to six hours and then catch a passenger bus until the earthquake triggered landslide damaged the road.

"It took only a day to reach the district headquarters. But we cannot reach there even in three days now," he said.

The destruction of road has made supply of even basic necessities difficult in Sertung and other surrounding villages. Local health post lacks basic medicines and grocery shops have remain closed for months as the shopkeepers have not been able to use mules to transport goods from the district headquarters.

Phircha Lama of Sertung VDC-8 said nearly 150 mules in his village are not of any use these days as the road is severely damaged. "They were used for carrying essential goods from the district headquarters. But as the roads are damaged, they are staying idle at home," he said. "We would have faced acute shortage of even food had the helicopters not delivered them here."

According to WFP Communication Officer Sheetashma Thapa, the UN Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) carried out a total 2,863 sorties to 139 locations including this remote Sertung VDC in the district since the UNHAS started its operation in Nepal. Among others, the UNHAS transported 1,457 metric tons of cargo of relief materials on behalf of 135 humanitarian organizations and airlifted a total of 2,593 passengers.

Virtually cut off from the district headquarters, locals in Sertung and its neighborhood have now started taking alternative way to reach to the capital city via Betrawati in Nuwakot and then to Kathmandu. "It now takes three days to reach Betrawati and then one more day to reach to the capital city. We will be completely disconnected both from the district headquarters and the capital city as the way to Betrawati gets covered in snow after mid-October," Linken Tamang.