UK aid agencies battle monsoon rains to reach 2.2 million quake survivors in Nepal

24/07/2015

Three months after the devastating Nepal earthquake, 13 of the UK’s leading aid agencies have reached more than 2.2 million people with aid including emergency shelter, food, clean water, sanitation, education services, and healthcare. 

The Disaster Emergency Committee (DEC) Nepal Earthquake Appeal has now raised £83 million. Using these funds and money from other sources, DEC member agencies have worked with international partners, local organisations and affected communities to deliver aid across 14 of the worst-hit districts. 

The DEC’s chief executive Saleh Saeed said: 

“The generosity of the UK public has helped DEC members to reach more than two million people in the first three months of the response. Our members continue to work at full pace, providing urgent aid to remote villages despite the heavy rains and regular landslides. They will continue to work with Nepalese communities for years to come to help get children back to school, healthcare systems back up and running and homes built, as well as supporting families to boost their income and be better prepared for the next disaster.

“In Nepal this month I met so many dedicated and determined people working together to rebuild Nepal. Almost everyone asked me to pass on their personal thanks to all those who have given to the Nepal Earthquake Appeal.”

On 25 April the worst earthquake to hit Nepal in 80 years destroyed the homes of 2.4 million people. Many families are forced to live in makeshift shelters, which offer meagre protection against the worsening monsoon rains. After a second major earthquake on 12 May and regular aftershocks, some people are still too afraid to return to their homes, living in tents along roadsides or in friends and neighbours’ gardens. 

Some people have started to clear debris and rebuild their damaged homes but do not have the tools and information to safely rebuild their homes. People affected say the most crucial help they need now is corrugated iron sheeting so DEC members have been distributing iron sheets for roofing and helping people build better quality temporary homes. 

Some agencies have deployed engineers and experts to help people construct shelters and one agency has built a model house to encourage replication. Others are paying people to rebuild their homes, providing a much needed income, as well as shelter, while some agencies are distributing cash so people can buy construction materials locally. 

Despite the heavy rains and damage to the health system, a widespread health crisis has been averted. DEC members have distributed hygiene and water kits across the 14 priority districts, built latrines, provided clean drinking water and water purification supplies. With 46 percent of water systems damaged or destroyed, water and sanitation provision is vital. 

However in the middle of monsoon season, there is still a risk of waterborne disease, particularly in spontaneous sites and camps where overcrowding and very poor sanitation conditions persist. Responding to an outbreak will be difficult due to the damage or destruction of more than 1,200 health facilities. 

The rains have also increased the number of landslides and caused flooding. More than 3,000 landslides were recorded over two months (25 April-1 July) following the quake, making access to affected areas extremely challenging and dangerous. Some areas have been cut off from help while member agencies can only reach other areas by walking for hours. People living in at-risk locations are forced to leave their homes for safer areas or are being formally relocated, putting pressure on the limited services in camps. 

Despite the challenges, DEC member highlights include: 

  • In partnership with community volunteers and women’s groups, Action Aid and its partners provided food to more than 92,000 people in the weeks following the earthquake.
  • Age International has provided unconditional cash transfers to 10,505 older people in 11 districts, enabling older people to buy food, medicines and other essential items for themselves and their families.
  • The British Red Cross and its partners has provided health services including medical care, first aid and psychosocial support to 55,000 people
  • CAFOD partners have provided shelter kits to more than 82,000 people in Kavrepalanchok and Nuwakot districts.
  • CARE International has reached almost 57,000 people with shelter supplies, such as corrugated iron sheeting.
  • Christian Aid has provided communities with water filters, which pump close to 175,000 litres of purified drinking water every day – enough to provide safe water for approximately 58,000 people per day.
  • Concern and its local partners have provided 70,445 people with emergency shelter and relief kits across three districts.
  • Islamic Relief has constructed ten Temporary Learning Centres to ensure children do not fall behind in their learning.
  • Oxfam has helped almost 16,000 farmers by distributing rice seeds for planting before the next harvest.
  • Plan has built 62 Child Friendly Spaces, providing a safe place to learn and play for 12,300 children.
  • Save the Children has provided 7,922 children under two years old with ready-to-use supplementary food. 
  • Tearfund has provided close to 9,545 people with cash so they can buy seeds for planting new crops.
  • World Vision has distributed more than 4.8 million Aqua Tabs for purifying water. 

Notes to editors

  1. To make a donation to the DEC Nepal Earthquake Appeal visit dec.org.uk, call the 24-hour hotline on 0370 60 60 900, donate over the counter at any high street bank or post office or send a cheque. You can also donate £5 by texting the word SUPPORT to 70000.
    • £25 can provide clean water for four families for one month
    • £50 can feed a family for two weeks
    • £100 can provide emergency shelter for five families. 
  2. The DEC brings 13 leading UK aid charities together in times of crisis: ActionAid UK, Age International, British Red Cross, CAFOD, CARE International, Christian Aid, Concern Worldwide, Islamic Relief, Oxfam, Plan UK, Save the Children, Tearfund and World Vision; all collectively raising money to reach those in need quickly.
  3. Aid delivered by DEC members and their partners has been paid for with DEC funds and money from other sources. Some people will have received different kinds of help from more than one agency. For example if it likely that separate schemes – one providing shelter assistance and another providing food packages – will have reached some of the same people.