Tudikhel after the second quake!

Field Report – Tudikhel and Sanitation – morning of May 12, 2015

Omprakash Gnawali, filing to nepalquake.org

When I visited camp Tudikhel this morning, I saw quite a few people
still staying there (3). There is a gate on the western side where we
parked our motorcycle. There were about 10 other motorcycles there,
some near the opening, which we can call a gate, or on the
sidewalk. Likely these motorcycles belong to temporary residents in
the camp. One cannot take motorcycles in to the camp, at least not in
open daylight. There is a solder standing at the gate. Our walk
through was going to start from the west, go all the way to the east
side, then towards Bhadrakali and back to our motorcycle.

As one walks in, and even if one does not walk in and walks round
Tudikhel, one can see three major types of tent here. The blue ones
are gift from China. The tent looks likes a mini home with vertical
side walls with ropes fixing the tent to the ground. These tents say
PR China in large letters and has the distinct Chinese flag printed
just above the front entrance. These are the most numerous in the camp
and occupy approximately the western half of the camp. There are light
and dark green tents on the eastern half. The dark tents, which have
slanted side flaps coming all the way to the ground, are a gift from
Nepal Army (6). These tents have some serial number, consisting of
Nepali letter and a number printed on them. I did not find out about
the bright green ones. There are probably a total of 50+ tents even

It is a sunny morning in Kathmandu with clear skies. A favorite thing
to do in Kathmandu when it is warm is to step outside your home, or to
go to your kausi, and sit in the sun and chat (gham tapne). Quite a
few families, who are temporary residents of camp Tudikhel, were doing
exactly that. The topic of the chat is probably different from the
ones during the winter sun. In between the rows and rows of tents,
kids were busy playing various games. I spotted a few playing
badminton. Some other kids were running around chasing each other. I
am not sure what game this is but they seemed to be enjoying it; they
were laughing and screaming (4). Many families were cooking their
meals. Usually daughters and women in the family.

I was curious about the one prominently placed green water tank South
of the main tent area (5). I chatted with one of the women (nani)
cooking a meal for her family. She said that the green water tank has
water only for washing and such. Drinking water is distributed by an
army tanker in the north-eastern corner of tudikhel. The drinking
water tanker is at quite some distance from many tents, so some
residents brought their own buckets with a tap to avoid frequent trips
to the water tanker (7). Earlier when we were on our way to Tudikhel,
we had found one water tanker, a gift from Germany, on the road
between Tripureshwor and Tudikhel. A German flag prominently flies
above the tanker with signs announcing free drinking water (1 and
2). This tanker is within 10-15 minutes of walk from camp Tudikhel.

Camp Tudikhel also has shower facilities, which are made out of tarps
(8, 9, 10). There are different sets of showers for men and
women. There is a big water tank outside the shower tents. I asked one
of the kids nearby how to use the showers. You are supposed to bring
your own container (e.g., a bucket) and fill it up at the water
tank. Then you take your water to one of the shower stalls and take
shower. Looking inside the shower, it looks like a place that will
give some privacy and that’s it (12). The kids were saying people are
defecating and urinating in the showers stalls now. This may be
because most of the toilets are blown away by wind. When I was in the
shower area, the kids were taking showers right next to the water tank
instead of in the showers (13). The showers are a gift from Oxfam.

Walking in the direction towards Bhadrakali, we get to the toilets. We
saw three types toilets. First, there are temporary toilets similar to
the ones I had seen in the US. These are individual hard plastic
structures, one or two per set (14). The ones in Tudikhel had waste
pouring into the pits dug in the ground. There are quite a few pits
that were dug but never used (20). The second type is toilets in a
bus. There were two of them (11, 18, 19). The third type, almost at
Bhadrakali may be the ones we saw on Facebook as local innovation in
toilets a few days after the earthquake. These are trenches dug in the
ground and blue tarps being supported by bamboo sticks to give some
privacy while going toilet (21, 22, 23). It was surprising these
low-tech toilets are the only toilets left standing and
operational. The trenches were 1/4 to 1/2 full of mostly liquid and it
was not too smelly. My guess is people started using the toilets with
more privacy and overflowed them so these low-tech toilets did not see
much use until the other toilets were toppled by the winds. Then
people partly used these toilets and some may have used the shower
stalls. The hard plastic ones (first type) had all toppled due to
strong wind and rain last night leaving the pits with human waste
exposed (14, 15, 16, 17). The toilet buses were not operational. I
actually saw people go into these third type of toilets and use
them. These also have a separate section for women. These toilets are
next to the overhead pedestrian bridge. I saw one person on the bridge
looking at the toilets from the top. These toilets do not have
roofs. Next to the toilets, the whole southern edge of Tudikhel had a
lot of rubble (24). Probably this is where the rubble from cleanup is
being dumped for now.

Tudikhel is starting to attract the regular users of the open
ground. I saw one person doing a namaste-like pose and walking
briskly. I thought he was going to the toilets near Bhadrakali but he
kept on walking around Tudikhel. Turns out he is in some sort of
morning walk with a namaste pose. I saw another person jogging around
Tudikhel, inside the fences. Now walking towards Nepal Airlines
Corporation building (westbound), we pass through more open space
without tents. We pass by African soccer players setting up their mini
goalposts and practicing soccer (25). They probably play for one of
the local professional clubs.

Walking on, when we got closer to the gate, we saw a few people
picking trash and dragging a trash container (26). I asked the lady if
she works for Kathmandu metro (nagarpalika). She nodded and said
yes. Looking towards Ranipokhari, we saw quite a few people packing
up, slowly dismantling a few tents. It looked like people are ready to
move on but they will do so at their pace. They did not seem to be in
too much rush to leave.

Finally, when we stepped out of the gate, we saw a public service
announcement from Kathmandu metro about proper sanitation to keep the
environment healthy and safe for everyone (27). When I took a final
glance into Tudikhel, I still saw the soldier standing attentively
near the gate.

Credit: Travel logistics Shyam Gnawali