Nepal, earthquake, nepal anniversary

Nepal earthquakes: one year on

As Nepal marks the first anniversary of its devastating earthquake, we continue to help thousands of families to rebuild their lives

By Tom Fitzpatrick

Apr 22 2016

On Saturday 25 April 2015, a massive 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, killing nearly 9,000 people and injuring many more. One year on, families continue to rebuild their lives. But progress has faced many challenges. Erratic weather conditions including rain, thunderstorms and mountain snow, the slow pace of reconstruction and a blockade on the border between Nepal and India have slowed down recovery efforts. We remain committed to help children and families in Nepal.


The immediate aftermath

The local community of the heritage town of Bunkmate in Machendra Bahal, Nepal, go about restoring the town after it is was completely destroyed in the earthquake. Credit: i-Images/Andrew Parsons for Action Against Hunger

 

In the immediate aftermath of the first quake, we released eleven tons of relief supplies - 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. We immediately mobilised our emergency team and launched an intervention in 7 districts – Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitput, Nuwakot, Rasuwa Makwanpur and Ramechhap. Our key priority: to meet the immediate needs of children and their families.

Since then, we have reached over 178,000 people, helping them to rebuild their lives and improve lives for themselves and their families. 


Rebuilding lives

A boy is playing with his kite near the camp for Internally displaced people in the centre of Bhaktapur. Credit: i-Images/Andrew Parsons for Action Against Hunger

 

After the first terrible few weeks, preventing disease outbreaks continued to be a key priority. This includes restoring access to clean water by repairing water networks, installing water distribution systems and delivering basic sanitation, especially in displacement camps.  

The devastating earthquakes and their aftershocks also left many mental scars and provoked widespread fear and uncertainty about what the future will bring. Many people are still traumatised as they struggle to maintain decent living conditions and figure out how to take control of their own futures again. That’s we’ve provided psycho-social counselling services for parents to cope with the trauma they’ve experienced and trained health staff so they can help families cope with the disaster’s impact. 

We’ve also set up quiet places for mothers and young children to facilitate breastfeeding and rest, and provide children with a safe space to play. 

Hundreds of thousands of people in Nepal depend on agriculture to make a living and lost the main source of their livelihoods during the devastating earthquakes and their aftershocks. Without an income from crop cultivation and animal farming, people’s ability to feed their families has been hampered. This is why we’ve distributed shelter kits, cooking kits and grain bags to farming households, enabling them to salvage remaining food supplies and store rice, maize and other types of crops. We have also provided cash grants in exchange for community work such as debris cleaning. 


Overcoming challenges

Action Against Hunger aid workers screen a child for malnutrition in Sinduphalchok, one of the areas most affected by the quakes. Credit: D. Burgui for Action Against Hunger

Many families in rural areas lost their homes and their remoteness meant monsoons and landslides made access difficult. Today, many are still living in temporary shelters where they're exposed to weather and health hazards. 

People have faced trying times in the past year, with a political stand-off and weather hazards slowing down attempts to rebuild. Major routes were blocked between September 2015 and February 2016, causing a shortage of fuel and other essential good, like medical and food products. Furthermore, delays in the formation of the National Reconstruction Authority, tasked as the key body in charge of Nepal’s rebuild, prevented many families from rebuilding permanent homes.

These obstacles have however not stopped families rebuild their lives and regain their hope. 

 


What’s next?

Children play during a play session in an Action Against Hunger tent which provides children with a safe space to play and laugh. Credit: D. Burgui for Action Against Hunger

Rebuilding in Nepal will take a long time and we are in for the long haul to treat malnourished children and prevent them from falling ill in the first place, as well as improving families’ access to food and clean water. 

We continue providing malnourished children with urgent treatment and follow-up care, and to work with the Nepalese health authorities to bring nutrition treatment to communities. 

We also continue to help improve access to food as many families lost their harvests and animals and have not been able to replant their fields as well as providing psychosocial support and training. 

Our work would not be possible without you, our amazing supporters. We extend a huge thank you to each and every one of you who supported our work, helping people like Kaili, whose story is told below.

 


To date, we have:

Action Against Hunger teams during a cash distribution in the village of Kabilash, Nuwakot district, after the community has started the first debris cleaning and rebuilding works in the local public school. Credit: D. Burgui for Action Against Hunger

 

  • provided 81,252 people with improved access to water, sanitation and hygiene
  • helped 24,910 people improve their access to food and livelihoods
  • distributed shelter and non-food items such as hygiene kits to 35,435 people
  • reached 25,685 people with nutrition treatment and food supplements
  • provided psycho-social support and counselling to 10,810 people
     

Kaili’s Story

Kaili Maya Sherpa, 57, from Tatopani, near the Chinese border, stands by her tent in the Upper Thali camp. Credit: i-Images/Andrew Parsons for Action Against Hunger.

 

“There were 46 houses in my village and only three or four are standing,” says Kaili Maya Sherpa, 57, from Tatopani, Sindhupalchok District.

We met Kaili when she was living in a camp in the Kathmandu Valley with her family including four sons and a daughter, her pregnant daughter-in-law and grandson Nima Sherpa, 5.

Kaili participated in Action Against Hunger’s counselling programme aimed at helping people cope with the trauma they experienced. 

“We have all the basics here to survive but I have been very afraid for the future and for my children,” Kaili told us. “I was always crying. I had given up all hope. When I was talking to somebody I would find myself drifting away. I could not sleep and I had stopped eating. All I could do was sit and think about the earthquakes. I really thought that we would all die.” 

“Action Against Hunger offered me one-to-one counselling. It was the first time I was able to talk to somebody who would listen and understand how I was feeling who was not a family member. This has enabled me to start to have hope for the future again.”

Your help means we can continue to reach more people like Kaili and her family to help them rebuild their lives.

 

Lead image: A girl plays with her kite in the Upper Thali camp after her family's home was completely destroyed in the earthquake. Copyright: i-Images/Andrew Parsons for Action Against Hunger

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