2015 Earthquakes response
Partners: Practical Action; Eco Himal; Helvetas; CEEN; Sahamati; HICODEF
Location: All of our project areas across Nepal
Background: On the 25th April 2015, the first of two devastating earthquakes in the space of a month hit Nepal. With nearly 9,000 fatalities, 22,000 injuries, 600,000 houses destroyed and 285,000 houses damaged this has truly been a disaster on a Himalayan scale leaving 2.8 million people homeless.
Nepali Government policy concentrated big donor international aid into the ‘most affected Districts’. While the need in these areas was unimaginable, it effectively meant that even the slightly less affected areas didn’t receive any useful benefit at all, including most of the communities in which TGT works.
There had been a tax waiver on incoming relief supplies which lasted about a month (until 3 June) but Rameshwar Dangal, head of the ministry's disaster management division, explained there was "no plan …to extend the date for the waiver." So incoming aid was taxed at up to 40%, depending on the origin of the goods.
In an interview with Nikkei Asian Review, Rameshwar Dangal stated, "If relief organizations really want to help, they should donate money to the prime minister's relief fund…They have to work according to the priority of the government; they cannot do whatever they want to do according to their agenda." He went on to say that the waiver had been withdrawn because it was not possible to provide temporary shelter for all the homeless families. Instead they were each receiving 15,000 Nepali rupees (about £100) from the government. However you might well ask how a homeless family three to four days walk from the nearest road will actually get 15,000 rupees and, in the event they do, how they will be able to spend it on new roofing material or tarpaulins, which may have to be subjected to a 40% import tax.
TGT's intervention: as all but one of ‘our’ communities were outside of these most affected districts it is very unlikely that they received anything at all from the millions that have been sent to Nepal via governments and big aid agencies, therefore we immediately had an obligation to these communities that we support. This is why small NGOs like us are so incredibly important.
One example is in Waku, a village in our area of Solukhumbu district, 849 houses were either destroyed or damaged so that people could not live in them and up to 300 households will have to be relocated because of landsliding. With our generous donor's help we were able to supply a number of services and materials, including:
- corrugated iron roofing (because tarpaulins are unlikely to survive the monsoon);
- improved seeds for rice and fast growing vegetables to which covered the immediate nutritional needs;
- seedlings and saplings of various fruit, fodder and native forest tress to compensate for the high demand on forest timber for reconstruction of the many damaged or destroyed houses.
- vocational training on earthquake resistant carpentry and masonry, resulting in 44 new 'seismic resilient carpenters and masons!
We continue to support all of our communities in their post-earthquake recovery, now mainly through pushing ahead with our capacity building, climate adaptation projects which continue to better the livelihoods of these vulnerable but recovering communities.