Our teams launch an emergency response in Sindhupalchok and Nuwakot
By Christine Kahmann
May 2 2015
Ten days after the devastating earthquake which struck Nepal last weekend, killing over 6,200 people, injuring over 14,000 people and leaving millions more without food and water, we have launched an emergency response in Sindhupalchok and Nuwakot, two of the most-affected districts.
The cargo sent by our teams - including water, sanitation and hygiene materials such as a water purification unit and water treatment kits, chlorine tablets, pumps, bladders, taps and construction materials for toilets - was released this weekend, allowing the intervention of the teams in these districts, where the vast majority of the population is homeless and conditions are rapidly deteriorating with the loss of food stocks and the destruction of markets. A key priority for us is to provide access to water, sanitation and hygiene services with a focus on preventing waterborne disease and hygiene promotion activities.
Our colleague Julien Eyrard reports from Nepal
Providing vital aid in the rural districts of Nuwakot and Sindhupalchok
According to our colleagues in Nepal, the situation is particularly critical in rural, hard-to-reach areas.
“From my own experience, it is a very similar situation to the earthquake in Pakistan in 2005," said Vincent Taillandier, director of operations for Action Against Hunger in France. ‘Outside the towns, we are talking about a huge rural and mountainous region which has been affected. Eighty per cent of the Nepalese population lives in rural areas. This is where the majority of survivors are still waiting for help.”
Action Against Hunger has extensive experience working in difficult terrain and conditions and is coordinating its response with other aid agencies on the ground.
Needs are particularly great in the hard-to-reach area of Nuwakot, northwest of Kathmandu, where our teams launched programmes today. An estimated 140,000 people were affected by the earthquake in the area and 80 to 90% of homes were destroyed. Our teams assessed the available food stocks, water needs, and need for psychological support following the disaster. A water treatment system, AquaSure, was installed, which has the capacity to provide clean water to 2,000 people.
In Sindhupalchok, east of the capital, half of the 300,000 inhabitants were affected by the quake. Yara Sfeir, a nutritionist for us, said: “Children’s nutritional needs must be met quickly, especially in Chautara, where the hospital completely collapsed. 90% of district health centers were destroyed." The mobile clinic we run with Médecins du Monde helps to overcome the lack of health structures and facilitates the screening, care, and treatment of children with severe acute malnutrition. A quiet place for mothers and their children is also expected to facilitate breastfeeding and rest.
Water, sanitation and hygiene: a key priority
Our key aim is to address child hunger around the world. This includes helping children and their families in emergency situations of conflict, natural disaster and chronic food insecurity. The aftermath of the disaster, water, sanitation and hygiene are a key priority to prevent waterborne diseases, which are direct causes of malnutrition.
Reaching survivors: a major challenge
Reaching survivors in hard-to-reach mountain areas that can only be reached by foot is a major logistical challenge. Across large swaths of the region, there are no roads and the only means of travel are footpaths. It can take hours or days to walk from village to village.
Image: After the earthquake, DilKumar Thapa Magar, 30 years old, and her family fled their home in Sindhupalchok. A week after the earthquake, they are still living in a makeshift tent in Kathmandu, without clean clothes, food and water. Today we launched programmes in Sindhupalchok to help families like DilKumar's.