Ladakh Floods appeal – overshadowed by Pakistan?

The more you travel, the more risk there is that at some time, some place, a disaster will happen in a place you’ve been to and had a really great time in.

[singlepic id=264 w=320 h=240 float=left]Ladakh is one of those such places. Last August, from a base in the pleasant mountain “town” of Leh, I was enjoying a trek around the Markha Valley before making a successful ascent up Stok Kangri. On that trek we were told about the disastrous floods that had happened a few years back, how quickly the waters had risen and how lots of folks had got stranded.

Sadly it seems history is repeating itself this year. The unusually heavy monsoon rains that caused such widespread devastation in Pakistan have been headline news for a while, but the relatively local flooding in Ladakh seems to have been lost in the tumult surrounding the Pakistan disaster.

[singlepic id=257 w=320 h=240 float=right]Early in August a series of bands of heavy rain swept across Leh with the worst reportedly dropping over 25mm of rain in under 24hrs. For a semi-arid area (Leh is a really green oasis in an otherwise desert-like area) this is exceptional and not surprising caused widespread devastation, loss of life and property. More than 100 people are reported to have died in these flash floods, over 800 people were still missing as of a couple of days ago, and thousands more have been made homeless as the floodwaters washed away their buildings and/or agricultural land.

[singlepic id=263 w=320 h=240 float=left]Despite the lack of publicity, it seems Leh itself is receiving some funds, but the surrounding areas are really struggling. And given that winter comes very early and lasts a long time here, that makes the situation all the more serious. The Juniper Trust (patron Sir Chris Bonnington) seem to be one of the few western aid agencies helping the region, but their campaign has barely started. As of today, their “project” total of £5000 aid for the region was looking very sparse. This is a popular trekking region with utterly awesome scenery, but the local people are not wealthy at the best of times – can you help Juniper Trust to help those who are the most vulnerable?

For more images of the region before the floods taken on a trek around Markha Valley and ascent of Stok Kangri see my India and Ladakh gallery.