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Action Against Hunger says the reconstruction of Nepal must now begin
KATHMANDU, 8 May 2015 // Nearly two weeks after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck the heart of Nepal, focus must now shift to helping people rebuild their lives, says international aid organisation Action Against Hunger.
For the past two weeks Nepalese and international rescue teams have tirelessly worked to save hundreds of people trapped beneath the rubble. Sadly, hope of finding further survivors is now fading; to date more than 7,500 people are known to have been killed by the disaster and 14,500 injured.
While remote areas that have been largely inaccessible so far still require an emergency response – access to medical care as well as food and water, it is now time to begin reconstructing other affected areas and helping traumatised families begin the lengthy process of rebuilding their lives.
"Excluding isolated areas, that still require emergency support, we must turn our attention to reconstruction,” said Martin Rosselot, director of operations for Action Against Hunger in Nepal.
"We must quickly provide a solution to those who have no place to live and help those who have been traumatised psychologically."
The tragedy that took place on Saturday 25 April has affected all Nepalese, Rosselot said, and beyond the collective trauma there are tens of thousands of people who have been personally affected by the earthquake.
"It is important to support them psychologically so that they can overcome the traumas they have faced," he said.
So far, we know that 284,000 houses have been completely destroyed by the earthquake, leaving as many, if not more, families homeless just weeks before the rainy season begins.
In Kathmandu, Action Against Hunger has assembled teams to provide support and psychological counselling in two of the capital’s hospitals.
"The people we see did not have many resources even before the quake,” said Francesca Corna, a psychologist working with Action Against Hunger in Nepal.
"They have been affected physically and have lost everything. Some women have just given birth and do not know where to go once the hospital releases them. How can they rebuild and at the same time continue to care for their children without help?"
The situation in the capital is slowly gaining some semblance of normality. Camps for those who fled their homes during the emergency are emptying gradually, and those who still have houses are returning to them. Access to water and food has been provided by the numerous humanitarian organisations working there. For the majority, food and water remains accessible, and markets are reopening relatively quickly.
In rural areas, including Sindhupalchok and Nuwakot – where Action Against Hunger teams have visited, people have managed to partially preserve enough to keep themselves alive day-to-day: some livestock, agricultural tools, certain water points.
Our focus will now be on the speedy reconstruction and restoration of livelihoods for those worst affected.
"The planting season has to be secured for farmers," said Chiara Saccardi, Action Against Hunger’s emergency operations coordinator.
"People must quickly find ways to get by daily, that's why we plan a flexible response by paying them directly to rebuild what they have lost. Repairing damaged water and sanitation infrastructure is also a priority."
And specialist nutrition teams are now at work in the Sindhupalchok district, where they are identifying, supporting and treating children with the most deadly form of malnutrition.
In parallel, Action Against Hunger’s emergency response continues to target the most vulnerable people living in remote areas. We are distributing plastic sheeting to help provide shelter, as well as kits containing essential items and cash, where appropriate.