It’s just under a week since the world changed for the people of Nepal. In those six days, more than 20 million GBP have been donated in the UK alone to emergency disaster relief.
There have been 60 earthquakes in the last 7 days:- There have been many tremors over 4 on the scale, the largest of which was 6.7. (My friend in the British Embassy in Kathmandu was under the table in the FCO ops room at the time on the phone to London) .
Over 6,000 fatalities have now been reported. The Nepal Army and police have changed focus from “rescue” to “search” and, with the occasional exception, such as yesterday’s miraculous release of a teenager who had spent days entombed, the operation will now mainly be body recovery.
150,000 Nepalis have left Kathmandu to return to home districts to support extended families and join their communities.
The UN says more than a quarter of the country’s population has been affected – 8 million people. The government has declared a state of emergency and asked for everything from blankets and helicopters to doctors and drivers. This is the worst earthquake in the country in more than 81 years.
Hundreds of thousands of people are sleeping in the open. Even those whose homes are still standing are sleeping in the streets, terrified that more tremors will bring down already fragile buildings. The government has issued a public statement dispelling rumours of another imminent large earthquake and encouraging people to return home, where possible. Because of rainfall in Kathmandu valley, life of the displaced people is becoming difficult. Rain is forecast for the next ten days.
Volunteers have been working round the clock, digging for signs of life as rubble slips dangerously around them. Hospitals are overwhelmed with casualties.
Friends in Nepal have been joining the voluntary effort:
- Prakash Raj Pandey and many other Scouts have been working in Kathmandu to free trapped people and to provide shelter for displaced families.
- Sumnimina Tuladur is working for CWIN (her regular job) co-ordinating mapping and location of displaced children through information sourced at hospitals.
- Chandrayan Shrestha is volunteering support for CWIN.
- Suman Shakya has set up a community based co-ordinating operation for relief called Nepal Rises (see FB page).
- Sneh Rana is working at the SOS Children’s Village in Lumbini, supporting life support at the village and fund-raising.
- Dawa Steven Sherpa is co-ordinating logistics for vehicles proving relief.
- Chimmi Gurung is managing community based support for the Manang Youth Society.
- Milan Dixit is supporting her husband, one of the most prominent Nepali journalists, as he tells the story of ongoing efforts.
- Nawang Norgay Sherpa wrote to me yesterday, “Up to today we have been helping the people outside Kathmandu. We raised the money from our own pockets to provide toilets , dustbins, food and some materials like tents, baby items for new mothers . But now it’s not always possible to help others. We too have lost our home so we are sad and counting the time before we can go there. Our parents are sleeping outside, the weather is poor and supplies, as you know well, are difficult to get there.”
- Chhepal Sherpa is co-ordinating relief efforts in Khunde and Khumjung.
- Tina Stacey is working with the UK Government Crisis team in Kathmandu.
So, what are the urgent needs?
- Clean water, buckets and jerry cans
- Food – 1.4 million people in need of food assistance
- Shelter – tents, tarpaulins
- Health –medical supplies and helping people get health care
There is also a need for household items and other aid for those who have lost their homes.
All 13 UK-based Disaster Emergency Committee member agencies, including Oxfam, are already responding to the situation – eleven of the DEC members have a long-standing development and disaster preparedness programmes in Nepal. The focus will be on the most vulnerable, especially for children, young mothers, women, elderly and people with disabilities.
Where and when markets re-establish, cash support will be a major way of helping the thousands who have been left destitute. In the meantime the following emergency relief items will be provided:
- Stoves and utensils for cooking
- Blankets and bedding (sleeping bags, mats and mosquito nets)
- Hygiene kits (soap, towels, basin, sanitary items, toothbrushes etc.)
- Warm clothes
In the longer-term, the UK-based DEC agencies will look into providing:
- Homes – supporting people to build better shelters that are earthquake resistant
- Support for livelihoods – to help people who have lost their means of income
- Education – replacing children’s lost scholastic equipment and books; repairing school infrastructure
- Disaster preparedness – building on the work already carried out in the region, to support communities to withstand future shocks and disasters.
Thank you again for your extraordinary generosity in supporting the fundraising efforts. Your donations are already making a real difference.