Transportation In Benekot- Nepal Essay
Benekot is a small village in Nepal. It lies in the North Western part of Nepal which borders China. The village is hit by poverty and a myriad of other economic difficulties. The roads here are in a deplorable state and mainly there no passable roads. To reach the village one has to take a 7 days’ walk from the nearest motorable road and in terms of air transport, one , on landing in the nearest airstrip will have to walk for 3 days before he reaches the village of Benekot. The lack of roads that are motorable in this village may be because of poverty or the terrain of this village. The terrain of the village is mainly mountainous. In the N.E part of the village lays mountains which are higher than 6,000 meters and the entire surrounding regions are mainly steeply and hilly with dense pine forests (Bajra, 1981)
Water in Benekot is a problem. The 48- family village gets it water from a hillside spring which is a more than 25 minute’s walk atop of the village. This spring is the main water source for both human and animals and this explains why the spring is not always containing clean water (because animals drink from the spring). Therefore, the spring is the main source of water besides the rain water which happens only in three months of the year.
The 48 families have small farms which grow rice and millet and because of the poor quality of the soil the harvests are not sufficient to sustain the villagers. This is why most of the men in this village have to travel to India (2 week’s journey) from time to time to seek some extra income so as to provide for their families’ basic needs especially food.
Medicare in this village is yet another big problem ion which thee is only one health clinic which is located in the district’s main town which is more than 3 day’s walk from the village of Benekot. Even after one has accessed the health clinic, there is no enough medicine and often pregnant women give birth in a special hut called ‘Birthing-hut’ which is situated outside the village. The attendant(s) in the birthing hut are village midwives who lack necessary tools such as razor blades and umbilical cords of the new born are cut using the sickle (farm tool used for harvesting in the farms). The poor medical attention in this village explains the low life e4xpectancy in this village. The average life expectancy for adults in the village of Benekot is about 37 years. This is maybe the lowest in the whole world and thus displaying the biting poverty in the Benekot village in Nepal (Village Profile of Benekot, 2008).
As far as education is concerned, there is only one village school which is about a one hour walk from the village and the schools teachers have not finished high school themselves. The children do not attend school through out the year because they are often required to work in the farms. This explains the little literacy rates witnessed in the village. The rates are shown below:
Ø Literacy rate for adults ———————–21.6%
Ø Literacy rate for women————————5.1%
It should also be noted that the school enrolments are very low especially for girls. Only 17.6% of the girls attend school or are enrolled in the only school in the village. After the children have finished their basic education they do not proceed to higher education such as high school because there are no high schools and this is why even the teachers themselves have not gone past basic education in the primary schools.
Trade in this village is almost inexistent with only one shop that sells basic merchandise such as ropes, thongs, tobacco, sacks, clothes etc. This means that the villagers cannot access most of the basic foodstuffs because the only shop only sells non-food utilities such as those mentioned above (Village Profile of Benekot, 2008).
Transportation Problem in Benekot
As mentioned earlier, transport is Benekot is a very serious problem with almost no motorable roads. As stated the only nearest motorable road accessing the village is 7 day’s walk away besides the airstrip which is 3 day’s walk away from the village. Therefore, for one to access the village, he/she has to use only two means: road and air in which air is very expensive for the very poor folks in Benekot. This leaves road as the only means of transport but still it is a very problematic because bone has to leave the vehicle somewhere where the motorable road ends and walk for seven days before he reaches the village. Transport and communication have often been used interchangeably and in Benekot, it is true that since the transport is very poor, there is almost no communication because there are no phones and electricity making the village to be far much removed from the centre stage of technological civilization.
The question that presses on is what are some of the transportation solutions that need to be put in place to help the inhabitants of Benekot to access the outer world, food and other basic services such as health care and education? The transportation solution used needs also to open up the village to traders or they start to trade with the people in the nearby district town as a way of accessing basic items such as food and clothing. Besides, the transportation solution will help the farmers transport their harvests to the nearest markets to sell and this will encourage them to expand their farming. The opened up market will act as a motivation to make the farmers to produce more of their farm produce. It has however to be noted that any solution given to these people need not be sustainable as opposed to a short time relief which will not end the problem of transportation permanently.
Solutions to the Transportation Problem in Benekot
The first solution that can be applied to the transportation problem in Benekot is the use of animals such as horses or donkeys for transportation. These animals will particularly survive ion the climatic set up of the village besides the already available food from the rice remains which can easily be turned to hay foe the horses. The horses, camels and donkeys will particularly perform better because motorable roads are inexistent thus the animals can easily go through the footpaths and feeder footpaths. Camel carts have generally been use d for transportation in Nepal from time immemorial (Noonan & Dear, 1994).
The animals will help mainly in transporting people to the nearest town for trade purposes and also help them access basic services such as education and health care. Besides, they will also help open up the village to the outside world who may wish to invest in the area especially in processing of the pine wood for various purposes.
How can the animals be used for commercial transportation? Well, the animals, especially the horses and camels, can be used to haul coaches which have been successfully used elsewhere where transportation is a problem. The people can then pay to board the coaches hauled by pairs of horses or camels to the nearest town and back as they carry out trade and any other businesses. Camels are particularly practical be4cause they can survive in lack of water (AATA, 1999).
The second solution to the problem is the use of bicycles which are readily available in India. The men can use bicycles to travel to India and this will reduce the two week’s journey to about four days making them to go and come back from India frequently thus providing better incomes for their families back in Benekot. Because of the lack of motorable roads, a presumption is made that bicycles can be used as an alternative means of transport such that the villagers are able to be exposed to the outside world. The bicycles obviously do not use fuel and therefore this will not be much of a financial problem for the poor Benekot folks (Forester John, 1983).
However, how are the poor folks in Benekot able to procure bicycles for transportation? The men who travel to India for search of green pastures can work harder to afford to buy the bicycles. This is possible because a number of men go to India to search for extra income for their families. Actually almost all of the 48 men who are the breadwinners of the 48 families that make up the Benekot village go out to India to seek food for the family. Further, the steeply terrain may not allow the use of bicycles without accidents but it is much better than the animals which are likely to be slower. It is common knowledge that necessity is the mother of invention and this will make the men prepare the roads they shall be using for the their bicycles and animal transportation
The third solution involves the intervention of donors who will help the natives of the village construct roads accessing their village. The fact that the village men go to India can be taken advantage of by paying the men to dig out the roads which will be .used to access the village. The dual utility of the road project will help in its success. First, the road project will be a source of income for the natives and secondly, it will be beneficial to them in that the roads will open up the village to the outside world thus enabling its development. Based on the two reasons, the native people will work hard to dig out the roads to open up their villager.
The idea of digging out roads may take long but it is the best way out. However, the possibility of getting donors ready to fund the digging of the roads is the biggest challenge. It should be easy to understand that donors will always seek interests in funding any project and this is why there is need for leadership in the village to enable the donors identify ways in which they can benefit from the project. One better way is to get investors who may be interested in logging and processing of pine such that these investors will not only help in digging the roads for their tracks but also will bring in electricity and telephone technology in the area and best still create employment and boost education in the area.
In conclusion, the solutions to the transportation problems in Benekot will help boost the economy of the village apart from raising their standards of living of the people it the village. A village may contain all the gold in the country but if it is not opened up through roads and communication channels, then the gold is useless and the natives will die of hunger, poverty, maladies and any other difficulties befit of an isolated village. Therefore, transportation plays a key role in the economic development of any region anywhere in the world.
Village Profile of Benekot, Retrieved on 27th Dec 2008 from http://www.us.edu.au/course/material/ENG1101/projects/project1/s22005/village_profile_of_benekot.htm
Eckermann Erik, 2001: World History of Automobile, SAE publisher pp1-5
AATA, 1999: Excellence in Animal transportation: Looking to the Future, AATA European Office
Forester John, 1983: Bicycle transportation, MIT Press, pp 124-9
Noonan Diana & Dear Chloe, 1994: From Camel Cart to Canoe: Transportation in India and Nepal, Wright Publishers
Bajra Bhuwan, 1981: Transport and communication Linkages in Nepal, Centre for Economic Development and Administration, p199