It has been three months since the earthquake in Nepal. Over 9,000 people lost their lives and several more were injured. The latest figures state that over 117,000 people are displaced from their homes and over two million children have been affected. Like many countries at this time, Nepal is in great need of humanitarian assistance and help in rebuilding efforts. However, disaster relief is a short-term issue. The fate of the country in the long term must be considered by the international community.
Nepal was already listed as one of the poorest countries in the world prior to the earthquake, and moving forward they will not be able to break from their rank anytime soon. However, the country does have the means to be self-sufficient with the right help.
Nepal has many natural resources, particularly minerals like zinc and copper, but they are in limited supply and hard to get to. Agriculture is the largest source of income for the country and employs the most people. Many crops grow in the region but the most popular now are rice and corn. There is great potential for agriculture in the country if they can gain access to newer methods of farming and education. Agriculture will not only help Nepal feed its people, but boost international trading potential.
Another positive for the economy of Nepal is tourism. Nepal is home to eight of the ten tallest mountains, including Mount Everest. They also have other activities for outdoor enthusiasts including mountain trekking, kayaking, rafting, exploring the jungle, fishing, rock climbing, sports, and touring its cities.
Nepal is also known as the country with the largest Hindu population in the world and has several important pilgrimage sites for both Hinduism and Buddhism, as well as places that appeal to Christians and Muslims, too. The country prides itself in its acceptance of several religions and perspectives making it a unique place to visit.
The only setback to tourism has been political strife, but that is a problem that could be easily solved if the government would take note. Creating a friendlier atmosphere and promoting peace could bring people in. The potential for tourism is enormous and could bring Nepal out of poverty in the long-term. Despite previous concerns, tourism has been officially opened throughout the country as of the past week and experts are saying it could be the key to helping Nepal at this point.
In the immediate future, fair trade is another option for boosting the economy. Items that can be traded include food goods such as honey, lentils, ginger, tea, medicinal herbs, and oils. The Nepalese people are also skilled in making clothing, jewelry, paper goods and artworks. These products may not make a substantial impact at first, but there is potential for a larger production and international market.
The forefront for success in any country is always its people. The more that we can help the Nepalese people, the more their country can thrive. Basic needs like food, water, and shelter have to be met first, but education will be the deal breaker. Education not only includes teaching children how to read, but teaching life skills, medical care, engineering, how to handle money and so much more. Education is not limited to one thing over the other, and can be designed to fit the needs of a particular community.
As mentioned before, agriculture is an important area for Nepal and one that desperately needs attention. One reason why agriculture has been stagnant in the past is due to unfamiliarity with sustainable farming practices. There are also challenges with indigenous groups that believe new technology is unnecessary for crop production. Education is one way to combat these challenges and bring Nepal up to date. Students that are in the agriculture field need to know about biology, the climate, irrigation, and how and when to plant crops.
Overall, the task of getting Nepal to a good place is a large one, but there are millions of people who are counting on a change and holding out hope. The devastation from the earthquake is old news to the media but not to the people of Nepal. In order for the international community to help Nepal, and countries like it, we have to start looking at their strengths and work from there.
Sarah Haney is a mom, blogger, activist. and founder of the World as One Project.