The rapidly approaching monsoon season in Nepal threatens to bring another round of disasters for survivors of the recent earthquake who are still spending each night sleeping in the open, Oxfam said.
Monday will mark the one month anniversary of the magnitude 7.8 earthquake that rocked Nepal on April 25, leaving over 8,600 dead and more than 17,800 injured. Those who felt safe enough to return home were horrified when the second quake struck with a magnitude of 7.3 just over a fortnight later, taking a further 154 lives and destroying more buildings.
Oxfam Australia’s Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said tens of thousands of traumatised Nepalese living in the open for a month since the first quake would face a third disaster if they were not reached with essential shelter, water and sanitation.
“The people of Nepal are severely traumatised and do not know when this nightmare will end. The rainy season begins in June and tens of thousands of people are still living outdoors in makeshift shelters,” Dr Szoke said.
“Communities have shown extraordinary resilience in salvaging what remains of their homes to build temporary shelter, but with up to 90 per cent of houses destroyed in some areas there is a huge need for safe shelter.
“Nepal is expected to receive 80 percent of its annual rainfall over the three-month monsoon period and the risk of waterborne diseases will greatly increase if clean water and adequate sanitation is not provided in time.”
Oxfam has been working in seven of the worst hit districts in the country and has reached 100,000 people affected by the earthquake, delivering clean water and sanitation, tarpaulins, food and hygiene kits.
“The second earthquake exacerbated existing challenges in providing aid to hard to reach villages in Nepal’s mountainous terrain, with further landslides and rock falls blocking access,” Dr Szoke said.
“The rains will also make it even harder to reach remote areas as landslides become more frequent and heavy rain grounds helicopters.
“This really is a race against time. We are extremely grateful for the continued support of the public, but more funds are needed to help us meet the urgent needs of the people in Nepal.”
Dr Szoke said with women and girls most vulnerable after an emergency it was essential that their safety and their needs were considered in the response.
“When people are displaced from their homes we often see a rise in violence against women stemming from social instability. Simple measures like ensuring that all toilets are well lit and men’s and women’s are placed apart reduce risks to safety.”
Maybe that all toilets are well lit and men’s and women’s placed apart.
To donate to Oxfam’s Nepal Earthquake Appeal, go to www.oxfam.org.au or phone 1800 034 034.
Interviews with Oxfam spokes people in Nepal will be available from 3pm AEST.