| 05-01-2015

Iodised salt has become a nightmere

Case study on Salt: Rugin and Bichaya VDCs, Bajura

fian_slide3Bajura is one of the least developed district of Nepal according to HDI index which lies on the 75th rank and is listed as the district with 64.4% of population under poverty.  The people from Bajura always face the scarcity of food and compelled to go India searching low paid labor jobs to earn for their livelihood. People living in such remote places have been facing the crunch of iodised salt which is an essential elements for human health.

Rugin and Bichayiya VDCs are the most remote and difficult to reach which are adjoined to the border of Mugu and Humla in north eastern side. Due to less productivity these VDCs have always remain one of the prone area for food scarcity each year. Agricultural production is hardly enough for 3 months thus they have to depend on headquarter for food stuffs.

It takes almost 7 days to reach Gumba village (last village of Bichaya VDC) from the headquarter. They are facing scarcity of salt as well.  They are even compelled to eat without salt. They have to spend about 7 days to travel and buy salt with subsidy. Rate of per kg salt sold by Nepal Salt Corporation is 9 and receive 11 kg salt for a family for a month. But they have to spend about 3000/- to receive that salt. In north side of Rugin and Bichaya VDC there is remote Mahila VDC of Humal, in east there is Hyanglung  VDC of Mugu, and Dhaina VDC of Bajura, in south there is Badhu VDC and in west there is Budhinanda and other Himalayas of Bajura. 1/3rd area of Bajura District is covered by Bichaya VDC. It takes about 1 hour to travel from 1 ward to another ward in this VDC. As per population census of 2068 the total population of Bichaya is 2723 and of Rugin VDC is 2914. Literacy rate of this district is also extremely low. In the same way access to health is also miserable. Bajura is geographically difficult as well as services from the government is also difficult in this district.

Focus group discussion was done with community of remote area of Bajura about subsidy salt provided by government.  Local community people and representatives of the political parties were participants of the FGD. Government distributes subsidy salt from Martadi and Kotli.  There is no possibility of easy excess of salt to community people of Rugin and Bichaya. They have to spend 4-5 days to reach head quarter to take salt but they donot receive enough salt for a month. They only receive 11 kg salt for a month which is not enough thus they are dependent on salt imported from China. Even if salt is available in Bichaya, they are compelled to pay more than 90 rs. Per kg.

Information related to affected communities or victims

Bajura is not only a place geographical difficulty but also is backward in services from the government.  They are deprived from their right to life. They are not able to earn their livelihood even they work hard every day. Due to lack of access to market prize of food stuffs is so high that they cannot afford it. Rich and wealthy people have migrated to city area and only remaining in these areas are poor. Most of youth went to India to earn. They are always struggling for paddy and salt. Sometime they even do not get salt so they have to eat without salt. Dhir Bdr Rokaya said that he return back with 11 kg salt after 7 days but that salt is only enough for 20 days for his family. He further said that he spend 99/- to buy 11 kg salt but expended more than 3000/- in travel.  He also mentioned that they do not get enough salt as well as they have to travel about 7 days and have to line up for more than 4 hours to get 11 kg salt. Its problem of about 5000/- people residing in Bichaya and Rugina. Salt store in Kotli was established with motive to provide salt to people of 11 VDCs of northern side of district but it is not viable for them.

Another problem being faced by the community is they are not aware and are not informed about the day when salt is distributed. Some time they have experienced to return back home without salt. Birkha Bhandari of Bichaya 5 said that they are provided with salt only when they show their citizenship. Personnel of salt store mentioned that government does not send enough salt so they are compelled to distribute 11 kg salt per family. In one side people are not getting subsidy salt where as in other side same salt is sold in black market with high price.  Since there is no proper access of salt from salt trading corporation community people have to depend on salt imported from China (Dhike nun).

If a salt store is established in Kawadi then there would be easy access to salt to people of Rugin and Bichaya.

Main claims of victims

Options for solving the problems:

First affected community has to be active and raise their voice. If a salt store is established in Kawadi (in between Bichaya and Rugin VDC) then availability of salt will be easier. If DDC, Ministry of Import, Salt Trading Corporation proceed for availability of adequate salt then they can easily receive salt.

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