Oxfam reaching Nepal’s most isolated in race against monsoon

Emergencies, General, Media Releases, News article written on the 25 May 2015

One month on since the first earthquake hit Nepal, Oxfam  is working with mountain guides and porters to deliver life-saving aid to the most remote communities before the fast approaching monsoon hits the country.

Mountain guides and porters are assisting Oxfam with its relief effort in the Gorkha district, one of the worst hit by the earthquake, where up to 90 per cent of homes have been destroyed and communities have been cut off by landslides.

On Sunday 17 May the first team of porters and mountain guides trekked for four hours from devastated Barpak, the epicentre of the first earthquake, to Laprak, a hard to reach hamlet 2700m above sea level. Their cargo was essential tarpaulins and hygiene kits – the equivalent of almost 2.5 tonnes of aid materials – for displaced people.

Orla Murphy, head of Oxfam Nepal earthquake response, said similar distributions would be made to other isolated communities as soon as possible, with urgency heightened by the approach of the monsoon expected to hit anytime in the next four weeks.

“We have called upon the knowledge and experience of Nepal’s famous mountain guides to make sure the aid gets through to those who need it the most,” Ms Murphy said.

Not only is this an effective way to deliver aid, it also provides work for porters who cannot find work as easily as they did prior to the disaster.

“We must do everything we can to provide people with the assistance they need before the monsoon hits. There is no time to waste.”

In the last month two large earthquakes and more than 100 aftershocks have devastated Nepal, killing over 8,600 people and leaving millions affected. So far Oxfam has reached over 150,000 people in 7 of the worst hit districts of Nepal, providing clean water, emergency shelter and food.

Oxfam Australia’s Humanitarian Team Leader Richard Simpson said Oxfam had trucked clean water to over 30,000 people in Kathmandu valley, and distributed enough tarpaulins for over 50,000 people across Gorkha, Dhading, Nuwakot and Sindhupalchok. In Nuwakot. Oxfam has also delivered food baskets, with rice, lentils and oil rations for two weeks for over 25,000 people.

“With Nepal expected to receive 80 percent of its annual rainfall over the three-month monsoon period, the top priority for Oxfam is to make sure people have safe shelter,” Mr Simpson said.

“We have also distributed rice seeds to farmers who need to plant a new crop before the rains start. Two out of three people in Nepal rely on small scale farming for a living. Many of them have lost their loved ones in the earthquake, but also their homes, reserve crops and their seeds. If we don’t act quickly, they risk losing next year’s crop too- and becoming dependent on aid.

“We need to keep providing immediate emergency relief to people, and at the same time start supporting them towards long term recovery; people need to be able to start rebuilding their lives”.

To donate to Oxfam’s Nepal Earthquake Appeal visit www.oxfam.org.au or call 1800 034 034.

For images and stories of survivors follow this link: http://wordsandpictures.oxfam.org.uk/?c=18646&k=4dd4914a18

For interviews or more information, please contact Angus Hohenboken on 0428 367 318 or angush@oxfam.org.au