-by Ayush Karki (photo credit: ©UNICEF Nepal/2017/AKarki)
On the north-west corner of Nepal, lies the mountainous district of Humla.
The district is nature’s paradise with majestic mountains and pine forests…
… and is extremely rich in ethnic diversity too.
The second largest district of the country is one of the only two districts in Nepal which is not connected by road to the rest of the country.
The nearest road head is a four-day long walk away. So, the only ways to reach the district that shares border with China, is either by air….
… by foot, or by mules and ponies.
We were lucky to visit Humla. We first had to fly from Kathmandu to Nepalgunj, which lies next to the Indian border. From there we had to catch an early morning 1-hour flight (on a smaller aircraft) tot Simikot, the district headquarters of Humla.
Simikot which lies at an altitude of 3000 meters has become a transit point for pilgrims who travel to neighboring China to visit Mount Kailash, said to be the abode of the Hindu god Shiva.
Despite being blessed with nature and diversity, Humla district lies second from the bottom in terms of Human Development Index in Nepal. Being isolated from the rest of the country, the residents of Humla are still deprived of proper health, education, nutrition and other basic facilities.
The prices of basic commodities are extremely inflated here as everything is first airlifted, then carried by humans, mules or yaks.
Despite the hardship, there is no shortage of smiles in this place.
On 4th December 2017, the people of Humla achieved something spectacular. The district was declared open defecation free, meaning everyone had a toilet in their homes, and were using them! It became the fourth mountainous district and 43rd district of Nepal to achieve this status.