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News Category: Nepal


Q +A: Shaping Nepal’s Leaders


 

Building a country’s future is no easy task. Especially since young leaders often need to be coached and given proper opportunities. Even with this challenge, Pukar Malla has spent his career conducting research and developing initiatives to bring self-sustaining entrepreneurship to Nepal. 

 

Before his focus on leadership, Malla spent time in the private sector — leading technology designs at Intel, AMD, Silicon Graphics and a Silicon Valley start-up, and secured two U.S. patents. While working as a senior innovation policy specialist at the World Bank, he supported the governments of India, China, and Ghana to promote innovation and inclusive growth.

 

As a former senior research fellow at the Harvard Center for Public Leadership, he investigated and piloted frameworks for innovators to lead change within communities. After conducting research on leadership models, Malla got more insight by applying his theoretical models in Nepal. To further his dream of prosperous futures for Nepali youth, he founded Daayitwa, a Nepal-based social enterprise that nurtures leaders who collectively transform societal challenges into opportunities through entrepreneurship and governance innovations. He is also the founder and executive coach at the Nepal Leadership Academy, which nurtures leadership in youth and public leaders for promoting inclusive growth in Nepal. Malla is SAI’s Nepal Programs Director and also serves as a member of the Think Tank at the Ministry of Women, Children, and Social Welfare.  

 

In an interview with SAI, Malla discussed his work, curricula, and hopes for Nepal Leadership Academy’s new leadership Trek course.  

 

 

 

Pukar Malla 

What is the philosophy and research that led to the creation of your course Leading from Within?

 

From my work with Nepalese youth, I saw that young people have significant talent, passion, and energy to bring change. However, many young people, despite their best intentions and efforts, are unable to create a sustained impact. I joined the Harvard Center for Public Leadership as a Senior Research Fellow in 2015 and worked with Marshall Ganz and Ron Heifetz for 18 months to uncover these underlying issues and how youth leadership can be nurtured.

 

During my research, I noticed that there were two main trends. First, authority holders, generally in the older population, fear their loss of power and marginalize the youth. Second, young people want immediate change and resort to taking quick actions, without fully respecting the socio-political sensitivities. Additionally, youth in developing nations, are a demographic majority, however, they lack positions of authority and their huge potential to lead innovation remains unharnessed.

 

I began testing some of my research-based learning in the field through leadership pilots in Nepal. Consequently, I came up with a leadership framework for young innovators; Leading from Within was one of the courses that grew out of that framework.

 

 

How did you first start to develop your own leadership skills?

I first began developing my leadership skills in high school when I took on some authority positions, however, I was not able to achieve the change I wanted to see. These experiences of failure were extremely painful. I asked myself — why I was failing despite my best intentions and effort. I began to slowly discover that my individual expertise was only going to take me so far and that I needed to learn to work within a team.  I began to develop my leadership skills in order to prepare for the bigger projects I eventually wanted to work on in Nepal.

 

How does the unique environment of NLA’s leadership trek impact the course? 

During the Trek, the participants have a unique opportunity to reflect on their leadership learnings. The Trek will take participants through various moments — thrilling, peaceful, noisy, compassionate and more. Against these changing backdrops, participants examine their inner journeys through each of the six leadership modules by way of journaling, peer discussions, and conversations with the Coaching Advisors.

 

 

What has been the influence of Prof. Marshall Ganz and Prof. Ronald Heifetz on the creation of this course?

Marshall and Ron have had a colossal impact on my life and on this course.  Marshall’s work focuses on community organizing and is rooted in the principles of justice and grassroots actions. Ron’s work focuses on adaptive leadership, with an emphasis on diagnosing adaptive challenges within oneself and/or the system. Many aspects of their work have significantly influenced the design of this course, from theoretical to implementation perspectives. I am grateful that Marshall and Ron continue to support me in my research and other campaigns in Nepal.

 

 

What are some of the most important takeaways that you hope students will leave the course with?

I want some of the key takeaways for the course participants to be:

 

  1. Listening to oneself: One must understand one’s calling before one can mobilize oneself and others in this uncertain journey towards a shared purpose. Participants will learn about their agency and experience the freedom of choice.
  2. Empathizing with others: Any system includes people that will support you, oppose you, or remain undecided. Knowing their perspectives, not just in a technical sense, but by truly feeling their pain, is critical to understanding the system. Participants will learn to empathize with key system stakeholders and act politically.
  3. Diagnosing adaptive issues:  Understanding the real source of conflict in values, in terms of where participants are and where they need to be is paramount to creating action options.  Participants will learn methods to analyze adaptive problems.
  4. Taking collective actions: One must mobilize a team to transform what it has (people) into what it needs (power) to get what it wants (progress). Participants will learn hands-on tools of community organizing.

 

 

How does this course assimilate NLA’s learning about adult development and social innovation?

NLA has offered leadership courses to over 250 young social innovators in Nepal and the U.S.  In this process, we have learned how the mental complexity of adults grows as well as about how youth takes creative risks to achieve social impact. Leveraging these course experiences —including the understanding of the capability gaps of youth — NLA has designed the Leading from Within course to make the most optimal use of the three-week Trek experience.

 

 

What is the relationship between the Trek and Daayitwa?

The trek is organized by the Nepal Leadership Academy, which is a sister organization of Daayitwa. NLA was once a Leadership Lab program of Daayitwa, and now NLA offers leadership courses to various constituents affiliated with Daayitwa programs, including policy, social, and business entrepreneurs. The course incorporates learnings from previous courses on adaptive leadership, community organizing, governance innovation, and public narrative. Plus, some of the proceeds from this course will go to support Daayitwa’s rural entrepreneurs in gaining improved access to investment opportunities.

 

 

 

 

 

 

SAI Hosts Student Research Art Exhibition


Sacred Groves, Prathima Muniyappa

Picture 1 of 13

Sacred Groves, Prathima Muniyappa

 

 

On Wednesday, April 4th, SAI hosted an opening reception for its Spring Art Exhibition, “Showcasing Research in South Asia Through Visual Arts.” It features 2D and 3D art and artifacts inspired by Harvard students who traveled to South Asia sponsored by Harvard SAI travel grants. The show was curated by Sheliza Jamal (Graduate School of Education) and Neeti Nayak (Graduate School of Design). At the event, SAI chatted with them about the show. 

 

How did you get involved with this showcase? 

Neeti: While I was doing my research, I realized that there were a lot of art projects that were tangential to the research that I was doing. However, I couldn’t really talk about them when I was doing my thesis project.  I wanted a way to showcase the arts-based side of my project, and I was sure there were other students who had similar motivations. I chatted with Amy [at SAI] and she liked the idea, and we decided to do something about it.

Sheliza: Amy [at SAI] told me about the opportunity for an art show, and I jumped at the chance because I am interested in anything art-related.  

 

How did you choose the theme “Showcasing Research in South Asia Through Visual Arts”? 

Neeti: I’m working on a degree in master’s in design engineering, and we have a heavy focus on interdisciplinary work. To be interdisciplinary, you have to present your work in a way that is digestible by a lot of disciplines. And that’s why being visual is the most important thing [in bringing it to other audiences].

 

What was your favorite part of the show? 

Sheliza: The images, pieces of art, and artifacts are all manifestations of research in South Asia. Reading about how [the students] were inspired to take a picture, bring an artifact back, or create an original piece of work, was the most inspiring part of curating the exhibition.

Neeti: My favorite part of the show was working with a co-curator who had a completely different perspective on things. We came together to look at the layout of the show and choose the kind of images that best represent a certain line of research. 

 

What was the submission process like? 

Sheliza: We emailed the database of SAI grant recipients, and we asked them to submit an image of either an artifact, a piece of work that they had done, or a photograph they had taken while conducting research in South Asia. They also provided a short description so we would get an idea of their research and what that visit meant to them. We wanted to include as many pieces of art as possible, be inclusive as possible, and keep in mind the different regions. We didn’t want to have everything from one country. We were pleased that the exhibit has pieces from Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Nepal.

SAI Hosts Four Artists from Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and India


 

SAI is pleased to announce our 2018 Visiting Artists, who will be at Harvard from mid-March to mid-May. During their time at Harvard, the artists will display their work on campus, meet with students, attend courses, and give public seminars.

Check back on our site for details about the seminars and exhibition.

 

Imran Channa, Pakistan

Imran Channa’s art practice interrogates the intersection between power and knowledge. His primary focus is on the documentation and dissemination of historical narratives and events. He explores how fabricated narratives can override our collective memory to shape individual and social consciousness and alter human responses. His work draws attention to the instruments of documentation, highlighting how photography, archeology, and literature record, frame and manufacture history. He is interested in how these modes pervert knowledge and the construction of consciousness.

Images of the 1947 partition of Pakistan and India are the central motifs of his practice. He reworks historical images to forge new narratives, relocate historical truth, and interrogate the influence of subjectivity. Photographs are often the only ways of retracing the past for subsequent generations who did not experience events first-hand. They are paradoxical — containing the capacity to understand fact as well as create fiction.

 

Rajyashri Goody, India and England

Rajyashri Goody’s art practice revolves around the complexities of identity seen through the lens of larger social, political, economic, and religious structures at play, and consequently the tug between power and resistance that manifests itself within minority communities. Her interests lie within the interpretation of caste in India, particularly the strengthening voice of Dalit resistance since the 1920s. Caste-based discrimination is still very much alive in both urban and rural India, with crimes against Dalits such as rape, murder, beatings, and violence related to land matters committed approximately every 18 minutes. Yet, as Sharmila Rege put it, there is an “‘official forgetting’ of histories of caste oppression, struggles, and resistance.”

Goody’s aim as an artist is to contest this “official forgetting” by drawing out both political and personal Dalit narratives and weaving them together to reflect upon everyday acts of resistance in the current sociopolitical climate of India. Her artworks, whether they take the form of installations, photography, or more recently, text and ceramics, often result from a series of conversations and interviews. One of her ongoing projects incorporates Dalit autobiographies, which contain vivid and complex descriptions of food, cooking, eating, and hunger. She highlights and recycles their extracts on food to create “recipes” from their own words, compiling a cookbook of sorts as an ode to everyday resistance and an act of resistance itself against “official forgetting.”

 

Kabi Raj Lama, Nepal

Kabi Raj Lama is a contemporary printmaker based in Kathmandu, who primarily works with lithography and the Japanese mokuhanga (woodcut) medium. His work examines themes of natural disasters, trauma, and religion. Lama sees the complexities of natural disasters as multidimensional — affecting both tangible and intangible worlds.

Kabi’s exhibition, “From Kathmandu to Tokyo” in 2014 reveals the trauma of his experience in Japan where he witnessed and lived through the catastrophic tsunami that struck Japan in 2011. The artist’s decision to work with woodcut medium on traditional Lokta paper served as a cathartic experience. The motifs in this series were inspired by the wreckage and havoc created by the tsunami, as well as the Fukushima radiation that destroyed cities, and took away uncountable lives on land and sea.

In 2016, Kabi Raj was away from his home at residencies in Germany and China, when the Great Earthquakes struck Nepal in 2015. The earthquakes killed 8,686, injured 16,808, rendered thousands homeless, and leveled heritage monuments and places of worship. Kabi’s prints made while in Germany and China are poignant narratives of memory and loss. His work explores what the earthquakes destroyed as well as what they revealed. One source of inspiration for Lama was the hidden sculptures from the inner sanctums of Kasthamandap, which the earthquake exposed to the public when the building came down. For one of Lama’s ongoing projects, he recently traveled to the Everest Region in an effort to capture the moment of the earthquake at the world highest peak. He prepared and carved wooden boards from which he has created several editions of prints.

 

Faiham Ebra Sharif, Bangladesh

Faiham Ebra Sharif is a freelance multimedia journalist and photographer, who has several years of experience working as a reporter, newsroom editor and presenter in national electronic media. Sharif’s areas of research include colonialism, climate change, ethnic minorities, film, human rights, indigenous people, labor rights, migration, popular culture, refugees, Rohingya crisis, sports, tea industry and underprivileged children. He is involved with different cultural and political movements. Through his visual narratives and journalism, Sharif explores the lived-experiences of marginalized people both in South Asia and globally.

His current project, Cha Chakra: Tea Tales of Bangladesh sheds light on the plight of the tea garden workers of Bangladesh who are among the lowest paid and most vulnerable laborers in the world yet are strangely invisible to the global media. Currently, the project concentrates on labor rights and conditions within Bangladesh’s tea industry, which are a direct result of a long history of colonialism and oppression. This project aims to collect the undocumented history of the global tea industry through photography, oral histories, and archival materials. While at Harvard, Sharif plans to continue his archival research and collect materials related to the global tea industry from Harvard’s libraries and museums. He will also photograph the tea culture in USA and spread awareness about the phenomenon though public events and publications.

Other ongoing projects include Rohingya: The Stateless People, The Fantasy Is More Filmic than Fictional: Bangladesh Film Industry and Life in Progress: People Living with HIV.

 

 

Second Annual SAI Crossroads Program


 

Partners:

 

 

 

 

Co-Sponsors:
To be determined

The Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute, Harvard University (SAI) Second Annual Crossroads Program is a fully-funded career development opportunity for students from the Indian subcontinent, the Middle East, and Africa, who are the first in their families to attend college and may also be facing challenging financial and social circumstances.

The 2018 program will run from September 23 – 28, 2018 at the DIFC Academy of the Dubai International Financial Centre (Dubai, UAE).

Leading Harvard faculty will teach an intensive, multidisciplinary four-day curriculum in Dubai, for accomplished, motivated youth.

This program is a collaboration between the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute, Harvard University, Harvard Business School Club of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), the Dubai International Financial Centre, with the support of Air Arabia, the Carlton Hotel, Dubai Future Accelerators, and Emirates Grand Hotel.

Applications will open March 15, 2018. Please find application instructions here.

 

Program details

  • Class size: up to 60 students
    • 150 candidates will be shortlisted. Short listed candidates will be asked to submit a 2 minute video sharing their leadership experience and why they should be considered for the program.
  • Location: Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai
  • Cost: FREE (The program will cover the costs of international travel, board, lodging and class materials. Visa costs are the responsibility of selected candidates.)
  • Application deadline: Tuesday May 15th, 2018 11:59 PM Eastern Standard Time (EST).  
  • Questions: Write to hucrossroads@gmail.com 

 

Faculty Leaders

  • Tarun Khanna is the Jorge Paulo Lemann Professor at the Harvard Business School and Director, the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute, Harvard University.
  • Karim R. Lakhani is Professor of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, the Principal Investigator of the Crowd Innovation Lab and NASA Tournament Lab at the Harvard Institute for Quantitative Social Science and the faculty co-founder of the Harvard Business School Digital Initiative.

Before contacting the Lakshmi Mittal South Asia Institute, please read through the answers to Frequently Asked Questions.

 

Deadline Tuesday, May 15th, 2018, 11:59 PM EST. 

 


Alum Q+A: Art, Business and Life after Graduation


Sneha Shrestha aka IMAGINE sits on top of her mural  Photo Credit: Sworup Ranjit

 

Sneha Shrestha (also known as IMAGINE in the art world) transcends easy categorization. As a calligraffiti artist, arts educator, curator and social entrepreneur, her day to day – much like her art – is never predictable.

Sneha completed her Ed.M. at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) in 2017. While at Harvard, she served as Arts Manager for SAI. She proved to be an integral member of the community and a valuable voice for the arts at SAI, curating a show with visiting artists from Nepal and India. She also received an Arts Fund Grant that allowed her to do research in Nepal as part of her Project Zero Artist in Residency. The SAI Grant allowed Sneha to fly to Nepal for 10 days to facilitate her workshop with students in Kathmandu. She currently runs one of SAI’s internship sites, The Children’s Art Museum of Nepal (CAM), which she founded in 2013.

SAI recently spoke to Sneha about art, business, and life after graduation.

 

What have you have been working on recently?

I am one of this year’s Boston Artists in Residence (AIR). AIR is a yearlong residency project and this year’s theme is resilience and racial equity. AIR allows the city, government, residents of Boston and artists to work together through the arts. I am particularly interested in the Boston Creates Initiative, whose mission is to make art accessible for all people in Boston. Public art is an amazing form of art; murals have the capacity to get everyone from the community involved. Plans are in the works for me to paint a mural for the Harvard-sparked initiative Zone 3 on Western Avenue.

Additionally, I have been working as a Curriculum Designer and Business Strategist for the Learning Labs education technology camps at CAM. I started designing the program while I was at HGSE in Professor Fernando Reimers’ Social Enterprise class. In Reimer’s class, students have the opportunity to learn how to start their own venture. The class was both fun and practical.

 

Tell me about your paintings.

My paintings are my way of carrying my culture and my experiences with me. They are mindful mantras based on Sanskrit Scriptures, married with contemporary graffiti. Graffiti is something I learned about when I moved to Boston. Blending the two art forms is my way of creating a home away from home.    

 

What was the process of establishing the Children’s Museum?

In 2009, while I was still in college, I had the idea to build CAM. I started by building a library in Nepal for a struggling public school. The goal was to encourage kids to read. As a child, I had limited exposure to art experiences. However, I found it baffling that many children at that public school had never seen paintbrushes. Because of this, I decided to integrate art-making into the library.

When I graduated from college, I worked as a mentor at Artists for Humanity, a nonprofit after-school studio arts program in South Boston. This program helps teens understand entrepreneurship and they get paid to learn in creative studios through painting, silk-screen and photography from mentors.  Before this program, I never saw myself as an arts educator.  

Many Nepali children do not have the opportunity at school or at home to be creative and to think for themselves. I kept thinking about how my brother was the same age as the teens in the program. I began to wonder, if my brother had the opportunities to make art and express himself in Nepal, would things be different. Would he get into less trouble, be more positive and have more opportunities?  

This drove me to create a space for kids in Nepal, space where they would have the opportunity to express themselves through the arts. It was risky, but I was dedicated to my mission. I did what my heart told me: I applied for a grant, quit my job and flew to Nepal.  

Fortunately, I received the Advancing Leaders Fellowship from World Learning Projects for Peace grant for $10,000 to design a space dedicated to art and learning for kids in Nepal. They flew me to San Francisco to pitch my project and in June 2013, I flew back to Nepal and started the project. I gathered together a small team to help me crowdfund and put together an official board for what would become CAM. Our goal was to build a permanent place and a sustainable project that makes art accessible and provides 21st-century skills through project-based arts learning.

 

What is your vision for the future?

CAM has worked with more than 9,000 kids over the past four years. The plan is for us to keep making the museum sustainable and scale up in terms of the curriculum that we are developing. We also want to make CAM’s curriculum available to schools outside of Kathmandu.

Another goal is for us to collaborate with more international partners so there is an exchange of learning and opportunities we provide for children. This February, we are excited to collaborate with the Creativity Museum in San Francisco for a staff and volunteer training. For the past two years, we have had summer interns from Gettysburg College, and this year we opened up the opportunity to Harvard and MIT students.

 

Could you tell me more about CAM, and what kinds of experiences a student intern could expect?

The CAM internship is a unique opportunity to be a part of a young organization that is the first of its kind in the country. The internship provides students with the opportunity to get insight into how creative nonprofits work in the developing world and learn about education systems from a global perspective. Students also get hands-on opportunities to work with children through the arts. Depending on the student’s background and interests, there are opportunities to design tech-forward museum experiences, such as the learning labs.

 

 

The following conversation has been edited for length and clarity.

 

 

Mar. 20 – 31: Visiting Artists at Harvard


SAI is pleased to announce our Visiting Artists for the Spring semester, who will be at Harvard from March 20 – 31. During their time at Harvard, the artists will display their work on campus, meet with students, attend courses, and give a public seminar.

Check back on our site for details about the seminars.

Madhu DMadhu Das is a multi-disciplinary Visual Artist based in Mumbai, India; his artistic practice is primarily concerned with the projection of identity onto the social and natural world: in a way that the two are woven together in the Indian space (both mythic space and actual); Exploring both conceptual and material sensibilities through range of media including drawing and painting, photography, performance, video, site-specific interventions, collaborative community projects and interactive/performative installations.

In his work, human body often establish an improvisational relationship with object and sculptural elements in the space. The work has involved the spaces in both a narrative sense and as a site of memory to re-narrate historical events as a way of plotting connections between the particular and the universal. Subjectively, he adapt aspects of material culture as well as methods from anthropology, allegorical fiction as conceptual tool, which later extends to the space of the viewer, from the point of a storyteller, exploring exciting linguistic devices and imagery with a sense of irony and paradox.

Das received his Masters of Arts (Painting) from S N School of Fine Arts and Communication, Central University of Hyderabad, India in 2013. Bachelor of Fine Arts (Painting) from College of Fine Art, Karnataka Chitrakala Parishat, Bangalore, India 2009. He was awarded the Inlaks Fine Arts Award, Inlaks Shivdasani Foundation, India (2015) and Shortlisted for Emerging Indian Visual Artists by Delfina Foundation, UK (2014).

 

IMG_0452Rabindra Shrestha is a Nepalese visual artist. Installation, detail pen and ink drawing, painting, traditional painting (Paubha), illustration, cartoon, and ceramic art are the different mediums of his visuals expressions. Most of his art is directly conceptual based. The collaborative line art project, Earthquake line and Finger prints with red line are some of his series in the Nepali contemporary art scene. Many people refer to him as a “Line Artist”. Shrestha’s works has been exhibited throughout the National Fine Art exhibition (nine times), Kochi-Muzirise Biennale 2014 (India), and Asian Art Biennale (Bangladesh). He secured the National Special Award (NAFA) from National Academy of Fine Arts three times, and was a winner of the US embassy Art Competition (Nepal).

 

SAI responds to Executive Order


The South Asia Institute (SAI) fully endorses Harvard President Drew Faust’s response to the Trump Administration’s executive order restricting travel to the United States.

We offer our full support to Harvard students, faculty, staff and affiliates, regardless of their country of origin or religious background, alongside the Harvard International Office and the university’s Global Support Services. We encourage all South Asia scholars to apply for our programs.

The work of universities in the world has never been more vital. The SAI is committed to the advancement of global scholarship and understanding, and our work in this fascinating, important region will continue. Across many borders, our diverse students and scholars are aiming to generate knowledge and insights that transcend and outlive any temporary barriers to progress.

Harvard President Drew Faust: We Are All Harvard

Resources:

Harvard International Office

Harvard Global Support Services

In Short Supply: Post-disaster medical care


04_ShortSupply_Banner

This article, featuring SAI Steering Committee member Jennifer Leaning, was originally published in Harvard Medicine Magazine.

By Elizabeth Dougherty

When a calamity strikes and tens of thousands of people need help, the first impulse is to cry “All hands on deck!”

Not so fast, say experts in disaster relief.

“It was always thought that in a disaster there wouldn’t be time to measure the quality of the aid, and no real reason to do so,” says Michael VanRooyen, an HMS professor of emergency medicine, head of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and director of the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative at Harvard University. “We assumed that any care is good care.  But we now know that’s not the case.”

When providing medical care in disasters, health care providers must make on-the-spot decisions about who should receive care and how much, and they must do so with the knowledge that resources are limited in every conceivable way.

Continue reading →

SAI launches Nepal Studies Program


Photo by Patrick Xu, Harvard College '16

Photo by Patrick Xu, Harvard College ’16

The South Asia Institute is pleased to announce the launch of the Nepal Studies Program, with generous support from Jeffrey M. Smith, who is a Principal Shareholder with the international law firm of Greenberg Traurig, LLP. The 3-year program will focus on a different faculty-led topic of interest each year, and engage with scholars and practitioners both on the ground in Nepal and in Cambridge.

In the first year, starting in 2017, Jerold Kayden, Frank Backus Williams Professor of Urban Planning and Design, Harvard Graduate School of Design, will lead a study on earthquake preparedness, with events upcoming both in Kathmandu and Cambridge.

In Year 2, Leonard van der Kuijp, Professor of Tibetan and Himalayan Studies, will lead an exploration of the spread and development of Buddhism in the India-Nepal-Tibet corridor. This will be based on medieval documents and modern practice. In Year 3, Michael Witzel, Wales Professor of Sanskrit, will lead an exploration of aspects of Hindu religion in Nepal, especially of various rituals. This too will be based on medieval documents and modern practice. Special attention will be placed on their co-existence and the mutual influences with related Buddhist rites.

Continue reading →

Student Voices: Resilient Design to Resilient Buildings: Quality Assurance in Nepal’s Remote Mountains


This is part of a series in which we share reports from Harvard students who have traveled to South Asia with support from a SAI grant.

By Justin Henceroth, MDes Risk and Resilience, 2017, Harvard Graduate School of Design

There is little machinery available in remote parts of Nepal, so many construction tasks are done by hand, including bending rebar.

There is little machinery available in remote parts of Nepal, so many construction tasks are done by hand, including bending rebar.

The SUV slowed to a crawl as we prepared to cross the last of four causeways before we reached our destination—a construction site for a new police station in Dang District, Nepal. This site is not in the most remote part of Nepal, but in many ways this construction site embodies the challenges of building anything in this mountainous country. Despite being on the national East-West Highway, it took us nearly six hours to drive the 120 miles from the nearest city and the regional headquarters for UNOPS, the organization managing this project. It had not rained in over a week, so the road was clear, but the evidence of landslides lined the road for miles, and each causeway we crossed was still under a few inches of water. It was easy to understand how even a day of rain could quickly block some key section of this road—cutting off access between communities and the flows of people and materials.

As the reconstruction following last year’s earthquakes gets underway throughout Nepal, the limited access will prove a significant challenge for the communities, government agencies, humanitarian organizations, and donors that are all working to rebuild Nepal. Throughout the country, more than half a million homes need to be rebuilt, more than 30,000 classrooms have collapsed, and more than 400 health centers were completely destroyed. Many of the most damaged communities are in the remote hills that flank the Himalayas, with some villages accessible only by a multi-day walk.

Continue reading →