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May 12
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Ten Thousand Pounds of Tsampa
Line for relief supplies in Jyekundo, photo by Kontargyal

Line for relief supplies in Jyekundo, photo by Kontargyal

The Konchok Foundation continues to compile updates on the conditions in Jyekundo and relief efforts by the Surmang leadership, made possible by the generosity of the Shambhala community. This update, by Lyndon Comstock, covers the period May 4 to May 10.

By Lyndon Comstock

Earthquake relief efforts in Jyekundo by Khenpo Tsering and the team from Surmang, as well as by other monasteries and also NGOs, are mostly focused on food distribution at this time. Khenpo, with the help of three monks from Surmang, personally distributed ten thousand pounds of roasted barley flour for tsampa on the streets of Jyekundo a couple of days ago. He had purchased this barley flour in Xining and had arranged for it to be repackaged into ten pound bags before bringing it down to Jyekundo.

Khenpo ordered another 15,000 pounds of barley flour in Xining. The barley milling operations in Xining are working flat out, and it will take a week for this order to be filled.

Truck full of supplies to distribute in Jyekundo, photo by Kontargyal

Truck full of supplies to distribute in Jyekundo, photo by Kontargyal

The importance of Jyekundo to the region is illustrated by the barley milling situation. There was far more capacity for roasting and milling of barley for tsampa in Jyekundo than in Xining, although Xining is a much, much larger city. No barley flour is now available for purchase at any of the shops that have opened up in tents in Jyekundo. The regional shortage of barley flour, caused by the destruction of the Jyekundo barley millers, extends as far as Xining, where there is now no inventory left of barley flour. One monastery brought in some barley flour all the way from Lhasa, which is a very long and difficult journey.

Relocation plans for the population of Jyekundo have changed. The government previously announced three principal refugee locations for those who could not move elsewhere. More recently, they have said that no government support will be provided at the areas to the south and east of Jyekundo, although people can camp there if they want. Meanwhile, the area to the west of Jyekundo, near the horse festival grounds, has thousands of people living in it and is completely filled up.

 Surmang monk distributing tsampa flour in Jyekundo.

Surmang monk distributing tsampa flour in Jyekundo.

The government is asking all residents of Jyekundo who are able to temporarily relocate to some other region to leave as soon as possible. Khenpo reports that a small but steady stream of people have been leaving the city but the great majority of the population appears to still be there, living in the streets.

The previous announcement that temporary housing will be provided for those who can’t move elsewhere has been rescinded. Reports now state that families will be provided with a heavy tent plus a coal burning stove if they have nowhere else to move. The temporary structures that have been put up will be used for offices and schools.

For now, it is unclear where most of the population of Jyekundo will go during the rebuilding period although it still appears to be the case that they will have to leave the city. Meanwhile, the government announced that thousands of Chinese construction workers will be arriving in the next few weeks to start on the rebuilding work. Because of the climate, it’s difficult to do construction work except in the May to September time period.

How can I help?
Donations may be made to Konchok Foundation for earthquake relief.
Read more news and updates on the earthquake.

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