Rebuilding Nepal after devastation hits

Article Date

11 May 2015

Article Author

Sarah Degnan Kambou

Media Contact

Anne McPherson

Vice President, Global Communications email [email protected]

During the busy daylight hours on April 25, a severe earthquake hit Nepal, toppling temples, collapsing thousands of buildings and homes, and resulting in the deaths of more than 7,000 people.

The earthquake, the strongest in the past 80 years, has affected an estimated eight million additional people and nearly three million have been rendered homeless.

NGOS, community workers, and government officials immediately sprang into action to triage the most urgent needs, including providing food, water, and shelter, and setting up makeshift hospitals to care for those injured and in need, including an estimated 50,000 pregnant women and girls.

ICRW’s partners are among those who are working day in and day out to ameliorate some of the most pressing challenges and were on the scene protecting people as aftershocks continued to hit the capital, Kathmandu, as well as rural areas.

Yet rural areas remain a particular challenge for aid workers. Many villages remain inaccessible as a result of impassible roads and communications between aid workers and villagers is limited as a result of damaged infrastructure. The latest reports indicate that volunteer community groups are trying to deliver aid as best as they can, because official aid has not yet reached these remote areas.

Plan International, an NGO with which ICRW has worked on past projects to alleviate poverty, is working to meet children’s immediate needs, including shelter, water, health care, education and emotional support.

Save the Children, another international NGO, is working to provide safe water, hygiene kits that include vital items such as soap, shampoo, and a towel, tarps that are giving families safe shelter from the cold, rainy weather, and the necessary items for families to cook food without access to their kitchen, many of which have been destroyed.

Other partners, such as the Center for Research on Environment Health and Population Activities (CREHPA) have been doing research for decades on policies and programs that can alleviate poverty, which will help when conflicts and crises, like natural disasters, hit. Another local group, Abari, is providing tents to those in need and serving some of the most remote villages.

ICRW continues to stand in solidarity with these groups, whose work can be critical in saving the lives of hundreds of thousands and in improving long-term development, as we know from previous research.

We also know from previous research, as well as from past natural disasters, such as the 2004 tsunami that devastated Southeast Asia, that when crises hit, girls are uniquely vulnerable and that some of their most basic needs are simply not met during the chaotic early days. As Ravi Verma, head of ICRW’s Asia Regional Office in Delhi, says, “We must pay special attention to women, girls and children. The additional burden of poverty and deprivation will make it harder for them and will likely subject them to worst kinds of exploitations. What we know from experiences of several other settings is that the incidents of trafficking and sexual violence increase in times of disaster and conflicts.”

Given their vulnerable position, special attention must be paid to how girls are faring in Nepal. First-responders, aid groups, medical workers, volunteers, and the government of Nepal must keep the unique challenges that girls face in mind when administering services and setting up displacement camps, ensuring protection for girls and services that empower them and putting girls front and center amongst their efforts to repair and rebuild.

To contribute to our partner organizations so they can continue to provide relief and support development to enable Nepal to recover from this devastating earthquake, consider the following links: