The school has 152 students

Supplies: Nimtola Primary School is left with rations to last only a week with multiple roadblocks between Geserling and Dorona gewog in Dagana not yet cleared.

The school has 152 students.

Had it not been for the 24 villagers who volunteered to carry World Food Programme (WFP) rations from Geserling on July 26, the school would have run out of food by now.

Major roadblocks have occurred on the Geserling-Dorona farm road. Nimtola Primary School is located on the way to the Dorona gewog centre.

It took the 24 villagers more than three hours to carry 24 bags of rice, two bags of lentils, two bags of chickpeas, and a carton of cooking oil.

A second group of villagers were on their way to carry more rations yesterday but another landslide has blocked the path. Now the school has only enough rations to last it a week.

Principal Pem Tshering said that it is unfortunate that last night’s landslide blocked the footpath as well but something will be worked out in another week.

“I’m sure the farm road will not be cleared but I’ll not let my students go hungry,” he said. “We’ll find an alternative to transport the additional rations before we run out again.”

He explained that roadblocks and the school being cut off from rest of the dzongkhag is not new. However, it’s the first time that the school ran short of rations. Until last year, the school stored rations to last for at least 2-3 months during the monsoon.

To avoid wastage like last monsoon where about 3,000kgs of rice was drenched by rain when the school’s roof was blown away by a windstorm, rations were not kept in stock this year.

“Without a proper storage, huge stock of rations are damaged by the all-time gloomy weather here,” the principal said. “For that we keep our WFP ration stock at Geserling Central School.”

Of the 152 students, 70 of them live as informal borders. They are provided breakfast and lunch from the WFP rations, while the cost of buying rations to feed them dinner is borne by their parents. Each parent contributes money for 70kg of rice every year estimating the cost of rice is Nu 24/kg.

Then the supply order is given to a local contractor who supplies rations to school. Parents of the 70 informal borders also contribute Nu 550 annually to the school to buy vegetables. Parents of the 82 day-scholar students who get breakfast and lunch from the school pay Nu 450 as vegetable fees.

This is the third year since the Etho Metho School in Thimphu has been contributing Nu 50,000 to the school to buy vegetables. The principal said that 50 percent of the amount is used to buy eggs for the students.

“Cost of vegetables is high here as villagers do not grow locally,” he said.

It is not just school that has run out of rations. Shops in Dorona have also begun exhausting their commodities. There are five shops in Dorona.

Nirmala Pokhrel | Tsirang