Arpan Bhuju, a resident of Bhaktapur shares his ‘first-hand’ and ‘first-time’ experience of being in remote Rasuwa district for data collection of national housing reconstruction survey.
Initially, when I came to know that I will be deployed in Rasuwa after receiving the Master Training of Trainers (MTOT) and facilitating some technical sessions for field investigators, I was not entirely happy as I thought it would be very difficult for me to conduct my work in the mountainous district. I was deployed to coordinate field data collection for the project, ‘Household Registration for Housing Reconstruction Programme – 2’. I was anxious whether I would be able to conduct my assigned duties effectively. Now, that fear and anxiety is no more with such a rich field experience in a difficult context.
Managing food and accommodation has been a great challenge for us as there are hardly any houses left in Rasuwa – let alone expecting for a nice hotel with good food. We are managing with whatever food is available to us. On one side, it is frustrating for people like me, who had never lived in such difficult circumstances while on the other; I have also seen a mirror of actual Nepali rural society; that has been surviving with such difficulty, especially after the earthquake.
Recently, we were sleeping in the ground floor of a partially damaged building made of mud in Dhunche, the district headquarter when there was an aftershock and due to that, the mud started to fall from the roof. In some of the VDCs, it was shocking to see how the villagers were residing in tents in this extreme cold with hardly any food to eat. During these two weeks, I was able to visit in all VDCs of Rasuwa except two of them, which I plan to visit soon.
Challenges still remain in terms of better coordination with social mobilizers and local authorities to carry out the data collection but as we have learnt from our experience, we have now developed good rapport and support from the local authorities and the community in Rasuwa for smooth implementation during rest of the project period. At the moment, people of Rasuwa have great expectation in terms of getting some support from the government in rebuilding their damaged houses. So, as survey team members, respecting their sensitivity, we need to keep our ethical values and principles intact while conducting the assessment of the households – keeping an objective eye from what we saw from our “engineering lenses”.