Rural Nepal earthquake devastation | Emergency Appeal

Nepal earthquake: This used to be the village of Chaughada

Chaughada, a rural village in Nepal’s Nuwakot district, northwest of Kathmandu, has been reduced to rubble

By Agnes Varraine-Leca

May 7 2015

It is impossible to tell where one house ended and another began. Our team, who have started working in this remote area of Nepal, estimate that 90 per cent of the homes here have been destroyed. 

Dressed in a bright red flowery dress, Sanju stands amid the rubble of what was once her home in Chaughada. Since dawn, she and her four children have been clearing the stones that had made up their house before the earthquake transformed the village into a pile of dust and rubble.

She sits on a mound of stones that has become one with the path and the neighbour's house. Her mother, busy on the other side of the house, joins her wearing a belt to support her lower back and a large bandage on her foot.

On Saturday 25 April, when the earthquake struck Nepal, Sanju was behind her house. As the ground moved, she was propelled a little along the path. Her mother did not have time to leave the house. Buried under the rubble, thankfully she was quickly rescued with only a few injuries, unlike the 7,500 people known to have died in this tragedy.

To the sound of hammers, the inhabitants of Chaughada now clean what they can, clearing debris and putting aside whatever they have managed to save from the disaster.

If clearing is expected to take some time, then the time it will take to reconstruct these homes is even less certain.

The inhabitants of Chaughada, most of whom are farmers, cannot afford to rebuild. And even if they could, rebuilding is a lengthy process: it can take three to four months depending on the size of the house.

Sanju watches her son struggling to shovel debris in the heat. Schools, closed since the earthquake, will reopen soon and then he will be unable to help during the day. Under the midday sun, all are struggling to restore a semblance of normality to the village.

In the main street, women collect the branches of a large tree that lies on the ground, which has been cut into pieces with an axe. Nearby, a man tries to shake a wall of his home to test its strength – it’s one of the few walls that remain standing.

The rainy season will start soon, making life even more difficult for those who remain in tents. The small road that connects the village to Bidur, the capital of Nuwakot district, may soon become impassable due to landslides caused by monsoons.

Our teams continue to work around the clock to help survivors rebuild their lives. 
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All images: Agnes Varraine-Leca for Action Against Hunger

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