Road connectivity eases life of rural folks in AchhamRoad connectivity has led to a boom in agricultural output and small businesses in the villages since transportation has opened up new markets and possibilities.
Bajir Shahi, an 82-year-old man from Barla village in Panchadewal Binayak Municipality-8 in Achham, remembers the time when he had to walk for 10 days to reach Tikuniya of Uttarpradesh, India, to buy salt. Back in those days, the villagers rarely ventured out because walking through the hilly rough terrain was very risky.
“The villagers were mostly herders with each household owning at least seven to eight buffaloes,” he said. “We would weave our own clothes since there wasn’t much communication with the outside world. There were no other prospects besides rearing animals and eating what we grew in our fields.”
Fast forward to today and Shahi says he can’t believe that four-wheelers have reached his village and boarding a vehicle has become a regular practice.
Life has taken a comfortable turn in the rural villages of Achham in Sudurpaschim Province since almost all the villages have been connected to various road networks of the Mid-Hill Highway in the last couple of years.
Several villages of Achham have seen enormous infrastructural development in the past five to seven years. Most of the remote areas of the district are now easily accessible owing to the road connectivity and this has helped uplift the life of the rural folks.
Access to motorable roads has especially benefited the residents of Dhakari Rural Municipality, Turmakhad Rural Municipality, Ramaroshan Rural Municipality, Panchadewal Binayak Municipality, Mellekh Rural Municipality and Chaurpati Rural Municipality in the district.
“Life has become easier now. I remember carrying up to 15kg of ghee and walking all the way to Kailali to sell it. With the money earned from selling ghee, I would buy salt and make my way home,” said 79-year-old Maan Bahadur Sahi, another local of Barla. “These days goods can be delivered to the village in a day from Kathmandu.”
Barla is about 75 km east of the district headquarters Mangalsen.
It has been only three years since a road track reached Balata village in Dhakari Rural Municipality-4. The villagers say the facilities that came along with the road connectivity have made them forget about the past difficulties they faced.
“I didn't think I would see roads and vehicles in the village,” said Naina Devi Budha, a 75-year-old woman of Balata. “The construction of the road led to the opening of a health post and a medical centre in the village. Now I know what development means.”
According to Tara Khanal, ward chairperson of Panchadewal Binayak Municipality-8, the Mid-Hill Highway has made it easier to reach more than a dozen remote villages of Achham, such as Balata and Barla, by road.
“Now all 91 wards of Achham are connected to road networks,” he said.
Road connectivity has also led to a boom in real estate and small businesses in the villages. Transportation of goods has opened new markets for local agricultural products.
Tulasi Sahi, a Barla resident, said that earlier, arable land used to be left fallow but now people have taken up agriculture since their produce can easily be transported to nearby markets.
“People are also building infrastructure in empty land plots to start businesses. Now the locals don’t have to rely only on farming and animal husbandry for livelihood,” she said.
The 1,700km long Mid-Hill Highway from Chiwa Bhanjyang in the east to Jhulaghat of Baitadi in the west has touched more than one and a half dozen villages of Achham.