We are two young Australians set out on a trip to Nepal. We are due to do some volunteer work and trekking, firstly we stop at Kathmandu.
Kathmandu is a crazy city. It is buzzing and full of life. My God, sensory stimulation! Everywhere you look you will find something to fascinate you. You must always be aware as you walk around in the streets, so that don't stick your foot out in front of a scooter buzzing by or onto a wire sticking up in the road. It makes a regular walk feel more adventurous.... I like it.
We had been told to avoid Kathmandu. "Don't go there, it's filthy!" my dad's colleague advised.
But that's not what we travel for - to avoid the 'dirty' places. These are the places I want to go to - to see the people, understand their culture and experience their reality.
The reality of Kathmandu is this - the people are absolutely beautiful. They are among the kindest and most welcoming humans I have ever had the pleasure to connect with. Their humility and generosity seems to have no limit, which reflects the values they encompass as a nation. This can also be explained by the religion they follow - approx. 81% of Nepalese are Hindu, and Hindu tradition places great emphasis on the respect due to guests.
Despite the beauty of the people and of picturesque nature of certain regions in the country, in the city there seems to be no waste system in place. Around 50% of locals are wearing masks. After a day of walking through the city, breathing through our noses, our snot is black. Rubbish litters the streets and floods the waterways- the river stinks. There are houses right next to this river.
And so we ask ourselves: "How has this happened?" What systems are currently in place regarding waste disposal? Why is there such little green space in Kathmandu? Surely urban planners should have left more space for trees, such vital instruments in converting CO2 to O2. What is the government doing about this?
Only the Nepalese would be able to answer these questions. On a day trip to Mount Sabarhada, otherwise known as 'The Monkey Temple', we were lucky to meet a clever local, Rajeev, with whom we drank tea and played a game of baag ghal. We stayed in contact, and I questioned him about the rubbish situation via Instagram as per below:
Rajeev essentially told us that the problem lies with lack of education, and lack of governance.
There are, however, action groups that are trying to tackle the problem. After a Google search Gemma and I found 'Clean up Nepal', and arranged to meet with them to ask a few questions. This is what they had to say:
Origins of Clean up Nepal, script competition, where the waste comes from, school program
Finally - a video made by students in Kathmandu. It's only had 30 views so far - I'm sure they'd appreciate if you watched it.
So, what can be done about this? (IN DEVELOPMENT)
- Education and awareness
- Tourists should not contribute to the pollution and waste (everyone says 'make sure you buy bottled water in Nepal', but there are alternative methods like water purification tablets)
- Support action groups such as Clean Up Nepal
- Political change
- Regulated systems
- Alternative garbage disposal