A Year On from the Nepal Earthquake - 25th April 2015
On 25th April 2015, a devastating 7.6 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal. Nearly 9,000 people lost their lives and around 22,000 people were injured in fourteen different districts. Altogether 777,120 houses were totally destroyed and 299,007 houses were partially damaged (PDNA 2015). The social, economic and psychological effects on the population were severe. People are still in shock, and are afraid of recurring aftershocks. See this World Bank report for further details and a post-disaster needs assessment.
In Makwanpur District, where Learning for Life works with local partner COSAN, out of 521 schools in the area, 407 were destroyed or damaged and deemed unsafe. Out of 86,127 houses in the District, 21,136 were completely destroyed and 17,383 were damaged (Ministry of Home Affairs). In terms of Learning for Life's projects, 12 out of 19 Supplementary Education Centres (SECs), which provide catch-up education for children who have either dropped out of school or never attended, were totally destroyed.
HAT DID LfL AND COSAN DO?
Relief Support Programme
Learning for Life and local partner COSAN provided victims of the earthquake with tents and plastic tarpaulin for temporary shelter, along with food packages and hygiene kits. The table below shows the quantity of materials distributed to families in need in Makwanpur, broken down by Village Development Committee (the different areas within a District).
The relief reached to areas where the large-scale campaigns and public and government support were not present. COSAN worked with the Community Action Groups of women - decision-making and social action bodies - established through Learning for Life’s project in this area. These women were the decision makers in the distribution of relief, ensuring it reached those who needed it the most. This included pregnant mothers, families with new-born babies and children, people with disabilities and the elderly.
One group member from Namtar, Ms. Geeta Praja, whose house was completed destroyed, shared her feelings on having COSAN’s support after the earthquake: “when COSAN came to us and talked about our problem, we felt like we were not alone. It gave us more happiness in this time of distress, to be with people with good hearts”.
Another important element of the help that was provided to marginalised people who suffered greatly in the earthquake was psychological support, and also coordination with other supporting organisations.
Mina Upreti, Vice President of one of the women’s group, said: "The relief support gave us hope for life and helped us stay calm even in the bad situation. Also the food support, tent and basic materials gave us energy to fight the situation."
We are incredibly grateful to all those who donated in the aftermath of the earthquake - as you can see, your support was so valuable and helped prevent further hardship.
A year on from the earthquake, many thousands of people are still living in temporary shelters, and children are still learning in temporary schools that are not fit for purpose, especially in the winter with the wind and rain. Children are very vulnerable to dropping out of school in these conditions, especially as their parents are so busy trying to do all they can to survive, and are less focused on ensuring their children’s continued education.
Learning for Life and COSAN are constantly striving to seek funding to rebuild the Supplementary Education Centres (SECs) in Nepal. The Government has allocated some money to rebuild schools throughout the country, but the allocation is much too small. There is ongoing negotiation between the Government and Nepali NGOs.
The women’s Community Action Groups (CAGs) mentioned above have shown huge strength and are continuing to work as before. Futhermore, the women are advocating with the Village Development Committee and District Development Committee (local government bodies) to rebuild the SECs as soon as possible. The women in the CAGs have amassed their own savings through their group work, and funds from these savings were distributed to the worst affected members of the communities in Makwanpur, to support families to rebuild their livelihoods by buying livestock, restarting farming or re-constructing small shops.
WORDS FROM COSAN
Mr. Ramsharan Paudel, COSAN Programme Manager, said the following:
“In the time of the earthquake I was in Makwanpur and witnessed how people felt and suffered. Right after earthquake, I visited the women’s groups (CAGs) and warned them of aftershocks. My own home was completely destroyed, and I could understand people’s pain. Mr Zaman from the UK called me and asked me the updates of earthquake. I felt relief and shared this with the women’s group members who were in tragedy. This gave hope of support, and [since there was no support from the government or other organisations in this area] we started working for relief and helped more than 200 families with immediate need.
For all the support given in the time of tragedy and disaster, I would like to thank you all, on behalf of COSAN and from myself too, the generous people who worked with us to mitigate the pain of earthquake and resettle the lives of rural poor communities.”
The people of Makwanpur are still working incredibly hard to recover what they lost, however there is still a great need for extra support, in order to:
Rebuild the 12 Supplementary Education Centres that were destroyed
Continue running the supplementary classes, even during this time of uncertainty, to reduce school drop outs and support continued education
Improve people’s livelihoods through encouraging income generation activities
COSAN and LfL are constantly working to seek funding to support the needs outlined above. If you are able to help in any way, then we would absolutely love to hear from you. You can email us on firstname.lastname@example.org, or call us on 020 7385 8765.
Vijaya Praja stands with his two children outside temporary shelter provided by LfL & COSAN
COSAN Programme Manager talking to earthquake victims after settling them in to temporary shelter
Jureli stands on a pile of rubble that used to be the wall of her house.
Children from a Supplementary Education Centre in Makwanpur.
A woman looks on at her house that was destroyed in the earthquake
Temporary Supplementary Education Centre
Families were scared to sleep alone at night, so some built a large shelter together
Members of women's group after getting food support at Manthali VDC
A volunteer (the husband of a CAG member) carrying relief