Landlocked Nepal is hit by severe fuel shortages and border blockades, at a time when the country is still recovering from the earthquakes in April and May. Cordaid relief operations are affected by the blockades.
Nepal’s fuel supplies – mainly coming from the Indian Oil Corporation – have been largely cut off. India claims its trucks are reluctant to cross the border because of turmoil in the region, but many Nepalis are convinced that India is deliberately blockading the country, trying to convince Kathmandu to rewrite the constitution, the Financial Times reported last week.
Project sites difficult to reach
Cordaid project sites in Rasuwa district, about 3.5 hours drive from Kathmandu, have been affected by the blockade and fuel shortage. Staff members of Cordaid and partner organizations have not been able to visit the area and monitor relief operations on a regular basis. They are covering long distances by foot to do their work in the field.
The last two weeks we haven’t been able to send trucks to sites with emergency items (WASH materials) to the project sites in Rasuwa. The first phase of the emergency recovery project is supposed to end by 25th of October, but due to the situation this is likeley to be postponed.
Queuing for 6 hours
Cordaid driver Anil Tamang: “I got 20 litres of fuel last week, after queuing for 6 hours. But now gas stations have been closed completely.” Cordaid continues to conduct risk assessments in two villages in Rasuwa district. We can only do this, because most of the trainers, community mobilizers and community members are walking long distances to reach the villages.
Fuel shortages severely hit Nepal’s economy. The beginning of October is the start of the tourist season, an important source of income for the country. But restaurants are closing due to shortage of cooking gas and essential supplies. The fuel crisis affects the many trade fairs and annual exhibitions that come with the big festival of dasain, starting on October 16th. Moreover, the many thousands who directly depend on their daily earnings, are losing their daily bread as a result of the blockades.