Nepal: 3 years on
April 25th, 2018 marks the three-year anniversary of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck Nepal, leaving almost 8,900 people dead and more than 22,000 people injured. More than 600.000 homes were completely destroyed and another 285,000 suffered some kind of damage. About 1 million children were unable to go to school. Less than three weeks later, Nepal suffered another tremor of 7.3 magnitude that increased the number of victims and the situation worsened.
Xavier Network, through local partner the Nepal Jesuit Social Institute (NJSI), together with the support of hundreds of volunteers and donors, set about responding to the disaster and serving the most vulnerable groups.
But our action and support goes beyond mitigating the effects of the earthquake. Three years after the earthquake, we continue to defend quality education, ensuring the sustainability of our projects and generating opportunities for the future, paying special attention to women, children.
In the first emergency phase, between April and August of 2015, we coordinated with the NJSI to distribute humanitarian aid to more than 7,000 families. This included food, non-perishable food, water purification capsules, tents, blankets and other utensils in the urban area of Kathmandu and in the most affected districts of Dhading, Gorkha, Kavre, Nuwakot, Sindhupalchowk, Dolakha, Okhaldunga and Lalitpur.
In the second phase of Early Recovery, September toDecember 2015, the NJSI focused on the distribution of furniture and school supplies, supporting more than 20,000 students from around 100 schools. The main goal was to ensure that children could continue with their education as soon as possible to try and sustain a relative normality and stability in their live following the trauma in which they had suffered.
The Reconstruction and Development phase started in January 2016 serving the most remote and rural populations that are especially vulnerable because of their situation of high poverty and social exclusion. Since the beginning of the intervention, there are 13 Nepalese districts in which the NJSI has acted with the contribution from the Xavier Network. We have also contributed to the construction or rehabilitation of more than 130 classrooms, together with the installation of anti-seismic devices in educational centers, making it easier for students to attend classes safely. “The students were very scared and felt insecure because of the earthquake. Even parents, didn’t easily let their children go to school,” explains Balaran, a teacher at the Bisheswari school in Suri District.
Additionally, since the earthquake NJSI have built fourteen community centres for women. These have been used as a social place of gathering for women in the communities as well as a place to attend courses, including computer workshops and women empowerment programmes.
“We no longer need to gather on the side of a dusty road, under a blazing sun, to talk about our social agenda,” says Laxmi, one of the women who comes to the women’s centre in Kunta, in the Kavre District, “Now we can use the center to conduct empowerment courses and hold social and religious celebrations.”
Still feeling the effects of the earthquake, on August 11, 2017, Nepal suffered the worst rains in 15 years during the monsoon season, causing floods and landslides. The rains affected more than 1.5 million people, killing 143 and destroying more than 65,000 houses. Xavier Network distributed oil, salt, rice, blankets, utensils and other tools of humanitarian aid in the district of Jhapa, reaching more than 1,223 families.
Nepal is especially vulnerable to natural disasters, but as a network, we seek to reduce the repercussions of possible future crises and to promote and generate a future for individuals and communities putting the dignity and autonomy of people is at the centre of our work.