On the 25th of April 2015, Nepal was hit by an earthquake of 7.8 on the Richter scale, killing nearly 9,000 people and destroying hundreds of thousands of houses and livelihoods. With the epicentre in Gorkha, Sindupalchowk was among the districts that were most affected by the disaster, belonging to the group of districts where 70-95% of all infrastructure was destroyed or severely damaged.

Over the last 2 years, a large amount of support has been mobilized to Sindupalchowk through the respective national clusters in the different sectors and support from INGOs and individuals. But it also became clear that the area would need for a longer period as some of the impact has long term effects and the geographical features and accessibility further complicate the support and increase its costs.

The 5-month border blockade that followed the earthquake on Nepal’s Southern border and the damaged access road to its Nothern border caused further constraints of supplies and increase of the price of basic commodities. At the same time, many communities in the hardest hit hill areas such as Sindupalchowk and Dolakha were disconnected from their natural water sources, which in turn caused draught and difficulties to continue to grow crops. As such, many areas, including Thulo Sirubari and the surrounding communities experienced fod insecurity as a result of this.

Trail runs to support response and recovery

Ram Puri originates from Sindupalchowk and is a professional guide and semi professional trail runner. Two months after the second earthquake hit with Nepal in May 2015, Ram Puri and the Thulo Sirubari community organized the first Sindupalchowk trail race to raise funds for the continuation of education in the surrounding communities. With the funds collected through crowdfunding, 6 Temporary Learning Centers were established and learning materials provided to 470 children, which allowed them to continue their education and allowed their parents to focus on the response and recovery of their livelihoods while the children were in a safe learning environment (with Nepal experiencing hundreds f aftershocks higher than a 5 on the Richter scale), where they also received psycho social support to cope with the post disaster context. In addition to this, the race was a welcome distraction from the daily reality, with villagers participating and being actively involved in the support and check points. Based on the success of the first year, the 2nd edition of the race was held in 2016, raising funds to reconnecting communities (reaching 1500-1600 people and establishing a combined 2,540 meter of pipeline and 3 kilometers of road) with water sources and establishing roads for trucks to collect water from other sources in the places where this was not possible.

As such, the races have three main objectives:

  • To support raising funds for projects to support the community in addressing the longer term effects of the 2015 disaster, specifically in terms of food security, water and sanitatio n and education.
  • To raise the profile of Sindupalchowk in terms of its potential for outdoor activities and sustainable tourism
  • To add to the current momentum of promoting and professionalizing trail running in Nepal, and through that, opportunities for Nepalese citizens in terms of participating in national and international races.

Food Bank

During the second edition of the Sindupalchowk race, the concept of a food bank was introduced. The strategy behind this is that the establishment of a common stock will allow the population to diversify their supply for their own daily use and to bridge the shortage in lean seasons with the surplus in the harvesting districts. Households will register at the food bank and their contribution will be recorded. When prices are beneficial and the stock is sufficient, the food bank can sell to the market to use these funds to diversify the stock, establish a stock of seeds or increase the stock in the seasons when it is low. All households will be expected to contribute based on their capacity, with the food bank serving as a scial safeguard for those households that do not have sufficient land or capacity to live off their own land. All decisions with regard to donations and redistribution of the food are made collectively by all members of the bank.

The food bank has been running now for a year in a rented building and has currently 320 houoseholds connected to it, with the reach to expend this up to 16,000 households in the future, although this might require additiona depots. Through local contributions of around 5,000 kg of millet, and the start up stock of around 12,000 kg of millet that was provided through last year’s race fund raising, the food bank has been operational and has generated Nrs, 245,000 in funds. For this year, the aim is to raise funds to allow fr the contruction of a permanent food bank, thereby reducing current overhead of rent and strengthening the Food Bank’s sustainability.

In addition to this, the community has started a bakery near the food bank so that stock can also be processed into higher value products, such as multi grain and millet breads. The community is exploring the idea of using this to start providing mid day meals to the surrounding schools as children turn up at schools without properly having had food in the morning or snack on noodles that have low nutrition value.

Estimated costs and financing

The estimated overall costs come up to Nrs. 1,500,000 (USD 15,000). Of these costs, the local community is committed to provide the land free of charge and provide labour to contruct the food bank without requiring labour fees. In addition to this, the food bank has so far generated around USD 2,500.