Hunger in Mugu & Humla

Photo by Frederic Lecloux

From the Nepali Times Oct, 2006:

UNICEF last month celebrated Nepal’s progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal of reducing child mortality by two-thirds by 2015. However, the goal of cutting malnutrition from around 50 percent to 25 percent remains a daunting one.

These photos from Humla and Mugu are a reminder that all is not well.
Taken by an independent photographer documenting the work of French NGO Action Against Hunger (ACF) in August, they show that last winter’s (2005-6) drought is having a major impact in some areas.

Humla is very remote and, as you can see from the article, in great trouble still. Food production falls way short of demand and is being supplemented by the world food program. There is a great need for basic education, hand washing programs (more than 40 percent of kids under two years of age had diarrhoea, fever, or a cough), sanitation programs and the list goes on.

Still with all these tools in place, with a healthier population, food shortages will continue unless improvements in agriculture are made. Only 2% of land is available to farm and in such a mountainous region, growing seasons are short and subject to harsh weather ‘accidents’.

The Nepal Trust, who have been working in the region for 13 years, are at the forefront of developing tourism in the area.

Visions aside – it is clear that a sensitive and controlled tourism is one major vehicle through which economic advances will be made to raise the standard of living and the quality of life for the people of the forgotten valleys of the world’s highest mountains.

While the infrastructure remains poor, without doubt tourist dollars will make a substantial difference to families along trekking routes. Given the crowding of some of Nepal’s well trodden trekking areas, maybe this is an option for the truly adventurous. A truly remote area, the “Hidden Himalaya”.

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