Nepal was hit by a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake on 25 April 2015. This was followed by a second earthquake measuring 7.3 in magnitude just 18 days later. To date there have been well over 400 aftershocks affecting the country of magnitude 4 or greater since the event of April 25 last year. These aftershocks are continuing to this day and it is uncertain how long they will continue.
This has been one of the worst disasters in Nepal’s history and has left 2.8 million people across the country in need of humanitarian assistance. Almost 8,900 people lost their lives, over 100,000 people were injured and 600,000 houses were destroyed. Key infrastructure including thousands of schools, health facilities, temples and roads was damaged. 30,000 classrooms were completely destroyed.
Assistance Project 1:
Ghumthang Village & School Project – March 2016
Ghumthang Village Development Committee (VDC) (also sometimes referred to as Dhumthang) had a population of some 3,975 people living in 760 houses in 9 Wards according to the 1991 population census. Details of the current population are not available. The village lies some 60 kilometers North-North East of the capital, Kathmandu, close to the border with Tibet.
Following the earthquake many of the villagers evacuated to Kathmandu where they eked out a precarious existence in official and unofficial temporary camps until the end of the monsoon in October last year. Those who left were largely the women, the very old and young children, whilst the men remained to look after their livestock in the village. Some 75 of these internal refugees, mainly women and ranging in age from new born babies to a 93 year-old grandmother were supported for 6 months by Ride High Foundation in a temporary camp close to the Pepsi-Cola bottling plant behind the international airport in Kathmandu. RHF provided tents, tarpaulins, bedding, clothing and food. In addition we arranged for a volunteer doctor to visit the camp and provide free health care. RHF also arranged to send a shipment of food and essential supplies to those who remained behind in the village (see attached photo).
The Shree Panchakanya Primary School in Ghumthang – 8 serves Wards 8 and 9 of the village comprising some 209 households. The school was established in 1982 on land donated by one of the villagers whose son is the current Headmaster. The school was totally destroyed in the earthquake. There were 110 students at the school in classes 1 through 5 before the earthquake. There are now 97. 11 students lost their lives in the earthquake and 2 have since moved away from the village. It is anticipated that the Nepal government will eventually get around to rebuilding the school, but this is likely to take years. In the meantime there is an urgent need to construct temporary facilities to get the kids back in school to continue their education; and to free their parents to concentrate on rebuilding their homes and re-establishing their farms. Subsistence farming is the principal source of income for the majority of villagers.
To this end RHF have pledged Rs. 700,000/- (roughly US $ 7,000) towards the costs of building five classrooms, a staff room/office, toilets and a kitchen. There is also a need to replace furniture (desks and benches) and stationery lost in the earthquake. The American Lincoln School in Kathmandu has also contributed 75 zinc sheets towards this project and Child Nepal, a Nepali non-profit has provided Rs. 100,000/-.
The school committee would eventually like to cater through to class 10. Older children currently have to walk 2-3 hours to get to the nearest High School.
In addition to subsistence farming, some of the villagers have, in the past, sought seasonal employment as porters at the Nepal-Tibet border crossing below the village in the town of Kodari. Kodari was effectively wiped out in the earthquake (see photo) and it is doubtful that the border crossing will re-open. A safer route from Nepal to Tibet is currently being developed at Kyerung, due-North of Kathmandu. This means that this source of income has now disappeared.
The journey from Kathmandu to Ghumthang is fraught with danger. Initially it follows the Arniko highway, linking Kathmandu with Tibet, up the valleys of the Bhote Kosi and Sun Kosi rivers to Bharabise. The road from there up to Ghumthang is very rough and climbs steeply. In the dry season (October through June) it is just passable by motorcycle or 4WD. The journey from Bharabise (about 20 km) takes just over an hour, but the highway is very prone to landslides, particularly in the monsoon (July through September). The setting of the village, among some of the steepest mountains in Nepal is spectacular, but also prone to landslides, particularly since the earth is still cracked following the earthquake.
None of the houses in the village survived the earthquake. This has left a huge number of people in need of humanitarian assistance. One year after the event the villagers have received little in the way of help from anyone and survived the past winter at altitude under tin shacks and tarpaulins. These have been erected with tin sheets salvaged from their destroyed houses and some that they have bought with the Rs. 25,000/- (roughly US $ 25) that is all they have received so far from the Nepal government. RHF is conducting a survey to establish what else we can do to help.
More information is coming soon!
Assistance Project 2:
Banakhu Village Development Committee (VDC), Kavrepalanchowk District
Kavrepalanchowk (also called Kavre) was another of the districts most severely affected by the earthquake. An estimated 150,000 people – half the population of Kavre – were rendered homeless by the disaster. More than 30,000 households in this poor, farming community were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable.
Banakhu is the southernmost VDC in Kavre. It had a mixed population of 4,554 indigenous peoples living in 709 households. 8 people died and 13 were injured in the earthquake. 428 out of 709 houses (more than half) were either totally destroyed or rendered uninhabitable.
RHF, working with Civic Forum for Sustainable Development, Kavrepalanchowk, (a local NGO) supplied Rs.200,000 (roughly US $2,000) worth of building materials, mainly zinc sheeting, to help construct temporary shelters for residents of Banakhu who lost their homes in the earthquake. Civic Forum is still active in Banakhu and RHF continues to monitor the situation.
Other Relief Efforts
In addition to the above two major projects, members of the RHF team have also been instrumental in constructing temporary classrooms for Mahakali High School, Nagarkot, in Kavre district; supplying construction materials for temporary shelters to Gairi Gaun and Sana Gaun in Dhading district, also badly affected by the disaster; and supplying construction materials for temporary shelters to Kerabari village, Konje VDC in Gorkha district, close to the initial epicenter of the April 25 earthquake.
Keep watching this website for more information on how to help.