The Underbelly of Kathmandu consists of the new slum areas popping all over the valley. These areas are made up mostly of people displaced from their hillside villages due to the Maoist conflict in the recent years or people from the lower caste (Dalits) who are just too poor to afford properties. These people are considered “squatters” with no land rights by the local government.
The infrastructure in Kathmandu is taxed to the limit. It is estimated that at least 1/3 of the population in the valley have inadequate access to safe water, and inadequate access to sanitation, not to mention only several hours of rotating electricity a day.
The Underbelly of Kathmandu is a series of the photographs of the new urban poor in the valley. The resilience of these people is quite amazing despite the simmering crisis that exists. This little corner of Nepal represents people from all of Nepal, all looking for a better future for their family, all looking towards the new government to lead them there.
We arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal in April 2009 to continue our photographic journey documenting the Tibetan culture. What we came back with was the start of another photographic journey far removed from our original intent. Instead of traveling high into the heart of the mystical Himalayans renowned for its nature beauty and authentic tibetan villages, we ended up in the underbelly of Kathmandu.
Kathmandu being the urban center of Nepal, is also quickly becoming the urban slum central. As we travel through Kathmandu Valley, it was not the majestic Himalayan Mountains that captured our attention, but the rapidly deterioration of the whole valley and the endurance of the people living there. We saw roads that are crumpling before our eyes under the onslaught of vehicles. We traveled along what were once pristine rivers now permeated with the stench of raw sewage. The once clear mountain air is now filled with pollution that clogged our sinuses and made our throats raw. We endured, along with the majority of the locals wondering when the electricity will come on or if there will be gasoline at the petrol stations around the corner.
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