DANG, Dec 18: Unable to endure the bitter winter cold, four Raute people have died in the last one month alone in Salyan district, says an NGO working to improve the lot of one of the country´s nomadic communities.
According to Raute Utthan Pratisthan, the four dead Raute include an infant, a pregnant woman, an elderly woman and a man.
“We have learnt that four Raute people have died of cold,” says Satya Devi Adhikari, chairman of the NGO. “But we don´t know their names. Raute people do not want to utter the names of family members and relatives. They start crying whenever we ask for the names of the dead.”
All four Raute dead were in a group living in a temporary camp in Karenji VDC, Salyan. The group now has only 136 members left.
“They spend cold nights on the wet floor inside their sheds,” says Adhikari. “They don´t have warm clothes. So it is hard for them to survive the cold.” She says many other Raute have fallen sick due to cold.
The total Raute population across the country is 550, and they mainly live in Dadeldhura and Baitadi and in Mahendranagar.
The Pratisthan says that the community, which is just starting to adopt modern ways, has been suffering from various ailments due to cold.
In the wake of the increasing death toll in the community, Karitas Nepal and Action Aid Nepal have provided them mats, shoes, blankets and warm clothing, as well as rations including rice.
According to Adhikari, the problem is they do not like to wear clothes covering the whole body. It is part of their tradition.
“They are not to be seen wearing clothes covering the whole body. But their clothing habit is gradually changing. The community is still not aware of proper eating, clothing and sanitary habits,” she said.