The Region of Humla
One of the most remote regions in Nepal
Humla is a district that belongs to the Karnali province. The Karnali province has 10 districts. The province’s capital is Birendranagar- Surket (with 100,058 habitants in 2011), and is located 697 m.a.s.l. Humla has around 50,000 habitants (as of 2011).
Humla in the map of Nepal
If foreigners want to travel to Humla, the Nepali Government requires them to obtain a treking permit, and they must be accompanied by a guide. For them, the region has no other interest apart from treking.
Its capital, Simkot, is located 2980 m.a.s.l. 69.4% of the district is above 4000 m.a.sl. It has around 60,000 inhabitants. The annual precipitation is about 400 mm, which are distributed unevenly in a monsoon climate. The rain is heavy during summer, while the winter is dry and cold, with temperatures that can drop below -20ºC.
Simikot can be accessed in two different ways: by air, from Nepalganj or trekking, from Jumla, which takes 4 traveling days walking through mountain chains above 4,000 m.a.s.l. After arriving to Jumla, the journey can continue either on foot through the dirt tracks or by plane from Nepalganj. The airport’s runway wasn’t paved in 2007. It was paved in 2011, when the machinery to do so was transported on military helicopters to the area.
Access to Humla by air
Life in Simikot
Simikot is the only population in the whole district that can be considered a city. Commercial, administrative and educative services are minimal (with only one school, a public high school, and a few private schools). It also has hotel services, specially destined to the religious tourism, specially Hinduist and Budhist tourism that visits Kailash, in Tibet. The sacred and unclimbed mountain can be reached through Simikot, arriving to the Chinese border from there. It also has a military and police base, as well as a prison. There is a small and precarious hospital with two doctors. Several buildings from the health-care unit are closed. The district counts on several medical-assistance points attended by nursing staff.
Before the pharmacy HealthUsNepal was opened, there were three pharmacies that provided medications without any type of medical advice. The products were often expired and prices were exhorbitated.
In 2019, a dirt track joining China and Simikot was built. It also communicated Simikot to some of the near-by towns from the district, which allowed the entry of goods and all type of products from China. It also connected the district’s villages to the capital, even if the population still uses the old paths to travel, as they are shorter, although steeper. The improvement in internal communications inside the district and with China has allowed the arrival of machinery, trucks, and jeeps. Some of these have arrived through powerful helicopters, which improve the transportation of all type of goods within the district. That hasn’t stop the population from using yaks, horses, goats and their own backs to carry their loads. The steep grounds in which the dirt-tracks are found become impassable when heavy rain pours.
The poverty index in the area is extreme, as shown in the reports. All supplies need to be provided by air. There is no overhead power line, and the electric supply is obtained through solar panels and a small hydroelectric power plant. Shortage in the supply is frequent, mainly in periods where the demand is higher, like winter. Many house-holds have just a solar panel to obtain a minimum amount of electricity. The local water system and sanitation are really precarious. Water is supplied by semi-buried pipes in the streets that arrive straightforward to the points of consumption. In general, the supply happens at the street level and doesn’t enter the houses.
Hotels and some houses might have near-by water tanks and heating panels. The sanitation system, which exists only for grey water, is often in poor shape and runs through the middle of the streets. Wastewater from each household is directed to a specific septic tank. A big part of the population obtains the water from a public fountain because they can not afford the cost of the private supply, even if it is low. Communications happen via a parabolic antenna through satellite connexion, which makes it irregular (like all supplies).
Communication always needs to be one.way, meaning that we can not know from here when connexion can be established. We can only have contact when there is connexion.
Simikot. Simikot. Water supply outside of the houses.
Life conditions are really harsh due to the climate and the poor and eroded soil of the area, but mainly because the region is isolated. Goat livestock is the most common one. Yaks are milked and are also used as a means of transportation and work. Apple crops are predominant, along with a cereal that, once crushed, is used in many dishes. Nuts and vegetables are also cultivated.
The dryland farming is adapted to the monsoon raining cycle, which means that crops are collected in autumn. Irrigation is limited to streams and creeks of a small extension. Everything needs to be transported by light aircraft: rice, lentils, eggs, clothes, cement… absolutely everything. Life is limited to surviving.
A tax must be paid for the water supply to reach the house-holds. Many families can not afford it and need to resort to the only public fountain there is.
Simikot. Apple trees
Other villages from the district
The He is a village in the way to Takla, Marc’s birth place.
It has around 3000 habitants.
It is located about 4 hours away from Simikot.
In 2020, a track that communicates the village to Simikot was finished.
People still take the old way, which is shorter, but steeper.
Marc’s village. It has around a 100 habitants.
It is located 6 hours away from Simikot.
In 2007, homes did not have toilets, so people had to go outside and walk around the trails to take care of their basic physiological needs, even when cold or snowy and rainy.
In 2011, the village had a total of 3 enclosed communal facilities.
Water is supplied through three fountains that are distributed among the village. The water is collected from a mountain spring.
The public school has a dirt floor, wooden banks and windows without glasses.