As soon as you touch down the Jumla Airport, you can see a lot of things happening around. There are hoarding boards of many non-governmental organizations hanging in front of hotels, and shops. Vans, motorcycles and a few buses are running on the roads. Most visible is the mobile phone: street vendors, loaders and porters are talking.
Five years ago, only a few hotels offered attached bathrooms. There are now many big hotels where running hot water is common. Foods come in a variety in service of foreign and domestic tourists. New houses constructed along roadsides are at least three stories, mostly, and they look big. The volume of international tourists can be gauged from the rush to get air tickets. Most of them travel to and from Dolpa, Mugu. Likewise, many private banks such as Investment Bank, and Kathmandu Development Bank are operating.
During the peak of Maoist insurgency between 2001-2004, the situation of Jumla was awesome as the standoff between security forces and insurgents prevented all development activities. The few telephone lines available were cut off and electricity was in short supply.
Since the inauguration of Jumla-Surkhet Road four years ago, Jumla now has access to Nepal’s road network.
But more changes are needed. Although many non-governmental organizations have been working in Jumla and the government has been spending a huge amount of money for development, they are yet to make a difference in the life of common people.
According to Human Development Index, Jumla is still poor in terms of education, employment and health. The level of poverty is still higher in national average. There is a big gap between haves and have nots. Most of the kids from headquarters are studying in very expensive and reputed schools in Kathmandu who neither know about the context of Jumla nor have emotional attachment beyond the place being their parent's residence.
The life of women is still miserable as the village women do not know about their rights, not having space or opportunities to know that. Men consider that women are born for the assistance to them and have to please them in every aspect of their life. Currently, girls are enrolled in school but the drop out rate is high.
Early marriage is rampant. As there is a lack of drinking water, women are spending more time in collecting water for drinking and firewood for fuel. One of the major problems in Jumla is starvation due to decreasing agricultural production and work overload due to migration. According an estimate, food security is threatening the district.