NEPAL, a landlocked country in Central Asia, is sandwiched between the plains of India and the Tibetan plateau. A land of Hindu temples, Buddhist monasteries, tigers roaming the jungles of Chitwan, and snow leopards prowling the desolate slopes of the Himalayas, Nepal’s population is as varied as its terrain. Hindus, Buddhists, Tibetans, Sherpas, Gurungs, Tamangs, and a diversity of ethnic groups comprise its population of 30 million.
Nepal is one of the poorest and least developed countries in the world, with inadequate infrastructure, persistent power shortages, lack of health care, and recurring political instability. 80% of its people live in rural areas, dependent upon subsistence farming, with 30% living on less than $14 per person per month. 1,500 Nepali youth leave Kathmandu daily to work overseas. 30% of Nepal’s GDP depends on remittances-the money sent from Nepali overseas workers.
The majesty of the Himalayas (Nepal is home to eight of the world’s highest mountains), the beauty of the mid-hills, the warmth and friendliness of the people, and ten UNESCO World Heritage sites, draw mountaineers, trekkers, and tourists from across the globe. Tourism represents 8% of the country’s economy.
The earthquake of April 2015 sent shocks of death and destruction through much of the central part of the country, from the isolated villages of the Himalayan border regions to the mid-hills of Gorkha, and throughout the districts northeast of Kathmandu. It devastated the landscape and cultural heritage, and shattered people’s livelihoods and the economy. It will take billions of dollars and years to recover the economy, especially in remote regions further from foreign aid. Along with immense human loss, there was a remarkable cultural loss. The world has a moral obligation to assist this impoverished Himalayan nation in rebuilding its heritage and way of life; a heritage and way of life that attract so many people to this unique region.
About the Earthquake
Seismologists say that Nepal’s recent earthquake was a disaster waiting to happen.
Nepal lies in one of the earth’s most quake-prone regions, with a long history of geologic tremors, a result of ongoing collision between tectonic plates.
A week before the quake, earthquake specialists held a meeting in Kathmandu to discuss the country’s earthquake preparedness, but none anticipated that the event would occur so soon.
The April 2015 massive earthquake, known as the “Gorkha Earthquake,” with an epicenter 48 miles northwest of Kathmandu, left a trail of devastation in over twenty districts in Nepal. The death toll now stands at close to 8,000, with an estimated 17,000 injured. The number of people displaced by the earthquake is approaching three million, and UNICEF estimates that one million children will not be able to return to school in the wake of this quake.