We interviewed Sophie, an EU Aid Volunteer in Nepal:
- When did you start your EU Aid Volunteers deployment and where are you deployed?
I started my deployment with ICCO-Cooperation in Nepal in October 2017.
- What does it feel like to live where you’re living now?
Having lived in Asia before, I did not feel like I was arriving in totally unchartered territory when I moved to Nepal. Yet, I found it very interesting to compare my new Nepalese with my previous Laotian home.
Nepal is the only country in the world that does not have a rectangular flag. But for me, what really makes the country a unique place on the planet is its topography. As a result of the altitude, living conditions can be a bit harsh in winter and not having indoor heating is probably the biggest challenge I am currently facing.
The one thing I did not expect before being deployed is how much I would enjoy the local food which combines a range of ingredients from the Indian and Tibetan culinary tradition with its own gastronomic history. Nepalese cuisine offers subtle flavours with, in my humble opinion, the exact right level of spices, neither too much nor too little.
Kathmandu can be at the same time an amazing, exhausting and intoxicating place. It is indeed a quite vibrant and hectic city, full of life but also of dust and pollution. Despite the hustle and bustle of the daily life, people in the capital city remain however refreshingly friendly.
Sadly, the effects of the earthquake that struck the country in April 2015 are still visible in many parts of the city. But Nepal is slowly bouncing back from the disaster. In my view the charm of Kathmandu lies in its narrow streets that hide a blend of ancient Hindu and Buddhist architecture, little Newari houses with their heavy carved windows and courtyards full of drying chillies and rice.
Although based in Kathmandu, my work involves frequent missions to rural areas. Over the past few weeks, I visited three different districts for project monitoring as well as a rapid context assessment.
Bumpy roads… and, more importantly, encounters and sharing experiences with the people involved in ICCO-Cooperation’s projects, be they beneficiaries, co-implementing partners or representatives of local authorities.
- What Disaster Risk Reduction/Disaster Risk Management/resilience challenges have you seen in the country or communities you work with?
In line with the provisions of Nepal’s new constitution, local elections were carried out in September 2017 and provincial and national parliamentary elections are curretntly being held. The challenge now is how to work within the new structure and how to share responsibilities, funds, and functionaries.
Nepal is among the most multi-hazard prone countries in the world with high vulnerability to climate change, earthquake and flood risks. As Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is expected to become a local competence, newly elected local authorities will be required to prepare vulnerability assessments and related action plans to prevent and mitigate disaster risks. Yet, in terms of resources and capacities, all municipalities are not on an equal footing and some gaps need to be addressed.
- What challenges will you start to approach with your hosting organization and/or its partner(s)?
Given the above, making sure that capacities are available locally to allow stakeholders to play an active role in disaster risk reduction is essential for creating more effective preparation and management of disasters risks. To support this, we have been requested to assess the capacity building needs of some of ICCO-Cooperation's local partners and then design capacity building plans based on the needs that we identify.