Earthquake Recovery Program
The 25th April 2015 earthquake and its aftershocks affected 39 of the 75 districts in Nepal. One of worst hit districts amongst them was Sindhupalchowk as it was the epicentre for a powerful aftershock of magnitude 6. 7 on 26th April. Out of the 66,688 houses in the districts 64,565 were destroyed in the disaster, leaving thousands dead, many missing and hundreds injured. Many ended up homeless at the end of the day.
ISARD was the first to reach out to the affected people in Sindhupalchowk, Area -1. Two days after the initial quake, on 28th April, ISARD held a meeting with our staff and locals. Our social mobilisers from the community were helping the injured. We assisted with treatment of dozens of people in the initial phase. Some were treated in Barhabise, while those with serious injuries were taken to Dhulikhel Hospital. And while the aftershocks were still strong, ISARD’s team members volunteered to make available relief materials to the affected villages. Earthquake triggered landslides had made reaching villages difficult, which otherwise could have been accessed via vehicular transportation. In such cases, we had to request community members to collect the materials themselves. And while it was difficult for either party, it was the only way. The funding for the initial relief materials was arranged through ISARD’s internal fund. Soon after, our partner organizations – ICFON and Chautara Foundation were busy collecting funds for immediate relief. In latter days we also had monetary and voluntary assistance to meet the necessities of immediate relief from various international and national organizations and individuals from home and abroad (details have been provided in the table at the end of the report).
Sunkoshi consists of six VDCs – Dhuskun, Piskar, Chokati, Tauthali, Ghorthali, and Karthali. Each VDC is home to no less than 600 households. With houses flattened and the granaries crushed under the debris, these families had very little to eat. One of the most pressing needs for these people was food. With limited time and money on hand, it was near impossible to arrange food materials to suffice every household. Hence, ISARD provided food provision for the most backward communities first. A food security package containing 30 kgs Rice, 2 kgs Lentils, 1 litre Oil, 1 kg Salt, Tea bags, 2 kg sugar, beaten rice and few packets of instant noodles – these being the most basic ingredients in every Nepali kitchen, was provided to each household of these communities. In the following days, food materials sufficient for 100 households were supplied to the cooperative committee (a structure that already existed) of each VDC for about a month. The provision was to be shared among the community members.
Monetary assistance from ICFON (International Council for Friends of Nepal) and Chautara Foundation gave support to food security program. A total fund of Rs. 8,143,472.76 was collected; Rs. 5,140,150 from ICFON, Rs. 469,972.76 from The Travel Club, and Rs. 2,533,350 came from Chautara Foundation. A total of Rs. 722,849 was used in the food relief program. We also received donation in material from Nepal Trust, Shangrila Foundation, The Bouddha Monastery, PADA Education Foundation (Thailand), and The NEST (Nepal Education Support Trust). A total of 2,679 households in six VDCs received food materials under the relief program. Food security packages were also distributed amongst members in cooperative groups and local schools, in some VDCs. We put a stop to this program when other NGOs and INGOs arrived at these communities with enough food materials to suffice them all.
|Detail of Relief Recipients||Detail of Food Materials Distributed|
|VDC||Total Wards||Family||Rice (kg)||Lentil (kg)||Oil (ltr)||Salt (pkg)||Sugar (pkg)||Tea leaves (pkg)||Beaten rice (kg)|
Similar food packages were also distributed to the locals of Barhabise, Mankha, Binjel, Pangetar, Patek and Ramche VDCs too, despite the fact that these VDCs didn’t come under ISARD’s work area. If the households in these VDCs are to be included, the total households to benefit from the relief distribution add up to 2,828. The program consumed 34,320 kilos of rice, 1,394 kilos of lentils, 1,325 litres of oil, 1,789 packets of salt, 1,176 packets of sugar, 892 packets of tea leaves, and 2,992 kilos of beaten rice.
As mentioned earlier, 95% of the total houses in Sindhupalchowk was battered to the ground in the April and May earthquake. People slept in the fields, under the open sky for days. A threat was building against the health of the people, followed by a possible epidemic. The incoming monsoon meant the situation of the people in Sindhupalchowk was going from bad to worse. Temporary shelters were the most reasonable and easy answer for the moment. This required very little investment; time as well as material – plastic sheets and tarpaulins.
While we initially vouched for plastics and tarpaulins, soon its demand in the markets throughout the country started to soar high, and eventually it became scarce. Waiting for these sheets was not an option. With the assistance of social mobilisers, we focused on constructing shelters with the available raw materials – in this case, CGI sheets from crumbled houses, and bamboo and wood – something that is abundant in the villages.
With the need of shelter rising with each passing day, we resorted to CGI sheets, which lasted longer than plastics and would provide better protection to the people from the incoming monsoon rain. Plus, they could be used in the future for the reconstruction of permanent structures. The total number of households to receive CGI sheets to construct temporary shelters amounted to 937. Six VDCs – Piskar, Chokati, Ghorthali , Dhuskun, Karthali, and Barhabise, received a total of 9,414 CGI sheets to construct temporary shelters.
|VDC||Number of CGI sheets||Households|
Initially, following the government’s strategy for temporary shelter, ISARD distributed two bundles to each household. The government had also promised Rs. 15,000 to each household for the reconstruction of houses. When the government failed to live up to their ISARD did its own assessment and distributed CGI sheets depending on the family size – 1 bundle (8 sheets), 10 sheets, and 2 bundle (16 sheets), to the families. The roads were bad due to rain, sometimes even blocked by landslides, forcing villagers to walk up to 4 hours at length to collect their share of CGI sheets.
Considering that these sheets are expensive, costing Rs. 4,500 to Rs. 7,500 per bundle, and the fact that they needed it to get through the monsoon meant they had very little choice but to walk the long journey. A total of Rs. 5,878,825 was spent to support the temporary shelter construction program. This included transportation fair. The expenses were covered via the amount that was donated by ICFON, Chautara Foundation, and The Travel Club.
In collaboration with International Solidarities, ISARD built temporary shelters in Ghorthali. Likewise, in coordination with Oxfam, temporary shelters were built in Chokati. The coordination was voluntary on ISARD’s part. Ana Gabriela Rojas, a Mexican journalist based in India contributed a total of 130 bundles of GI sheets in Chokati, Ghorthali, and Karthali, where we assisted with logistics, and transportation. For the shelter construction in Piskar, we registered with the government for the financial coverage. Nepal Trust, Shangrila Foundation, and PADA Education Foundation (Thailand) also assisted with providing tarpaulins for shelter purpose.
Education was badly affected in Sindhupalchowk with 95% of its schools partially or completely damaged in the earthquake. The collapsed building had furniture, books, and valued stationery, which were destroyed too. Once life began to turn slightly normal, it was important to get school started. Building concrete schools could take months if not years, and the children’s education could not be put at halt for so long. ISARD volunteered to build Temporary Learning Centres (TLC) in Sunkoshi. In Budepa village of Karthali VDC, ISARD provided land in its agriculture farm to house a TLC after Budepa School collapsed in April earthquake. ISARD also provided school bags to students, and mattresses and food supply for TLCs. While these activities were listed under the earthquake recovery program, the fund for it was taken from the regular education and health programs.
Hygiene, sanitation, and health were another great challenge to maintain post-earthquake. Dead animals were decaying under debris, while maintaining hygiene and sanitation was the last thought on people’s mind. It was a perfect setting for the rise of an epidemic. ISARD distributed sanitation materials such as soap and toothpaste, encouraging them to use it. Similarly, ISARD collaborated with like-minded organization like Work for Nepal, and Kashmir Mosque, to conduct health camps in the affected villages and provide them with essential medication. The program again was carried out with funds from our regular programs.
Agriculture is the main occupation of people in Sindhupalchowk. 77.3% of its active populations are involved in agriculture. When earthquake hit hard, it affected the farmers, their farmlands, and their entire livelihood. With houses gone and the fear of another quake looming in the air, many resorted to their plastic tunnels for shelter. The tunnels had tomato plantations then, which were crushed and mangled. Along with the houses, agricultural tools were destroyed too. Some tunnels underwent tear in plastic, while others were ripped off for temporary housing purpose.
Once lives were back on track of normalcy, ISARD and the farmers found it necessary to resume the everyday farm work. In fact the requests came from the farmers. Our Facebook post on 6 May (when earthquake was still a constant occurring) mentions the community of Bimthali and Tungathali enquiring about receiving black cardamom seeds. Agriculture is important for Sindhupalchowk and its people, especially agriculture of cash crops which earned these communities 1.5 million rupees the year earlier. Hence, in collaboration with our partner organizations, and the communities, ISARD focussed on agriculture too.
ISARD provided 60 farmers with agriculture tools. The farmers selected had lost their agriculture utensils to earthquake. Similarly, 100 black cardamom farmers: 68 in Chokati, and 32 in Ghorthali, received special tools required for black cardamom cultivation. These farmers again were chosen depending on whether their previous tools had been lost or destroyed in the earthquake. More than 300 farmers received F1 hybrid seeds from Rjik Zwaan, provided to us by ICFON. These were seeds of tomato, cauliflower, and cabbage. Similarly, 50 packets of local Shreejana hybrid tomato seeds were provided to 50 farmers.
ISARD distributed plastic for tunnels to 196 tunnel farmers in 6 VDCs (Piskar, Ghorthali, Karthali, Chokati, Dhuskun, and Tauthali). ISARD received 1000 kilos of rice seeds which were distributed in three VDCs – Dhuskun, Chokati, and Piskar. A total of 200 households received 5 kilos of seeds each. 168 households from Dabbi, Lamchote, Kyaurini, Hile, Dhumrepati, and Sunkoshi of Dhuskun were facilitated with the seeds. Likewise, 10 households in Piskar and 22 households in Chokati received the seeds.