Oxfam is trucking in aid to remote villages in the Gorkha district of Nepal, where agency staff there say at least 80 per cent of houses are destroyed and nearly every person is sleeping outside with virtually no toilets.
The trucks are carrying tarpaulins, foam sheets, water containers, chlorine tablets and solar lamps, water filters and latrine construction materials.
Oxfam Chief Executive Helen Szoke said the trucks were deployed from India but she said some supplies from those trucks may need to be delivered to some villages within Gorkha by foot because the terrain was so bad.
“Oxfam aid workers in remote Gorkha villages say that 80 per cent of houses are destroyed and almost everyone has been forced to live and sleep outside,” Dr Szoke said.
“This is not sustainable, especially for the sick, the elderly and children. Women – especially those who are pregnant or breast-feeding – are desperate for private spaces to wash and bathe, while rudimentary sanitation systems have been completely wrecked.
“Oxfam staff in Gorkha say medical functions across the entire district are largely gone and with the lack of sanitation facilities, it is likely more people will begin to fall sick.”
The Nepalese army, along with support from the Indian army and other rescue teams, are still trying to save people in ground and air searches.
“We are working hard to get tarpaulins, ground and foam sheets, solar lamps, kitchen sets, blankets, hygiene kits, emergency shelter and water purification kits into Gorhka, but dispersing large amounts of aid in this landscape is terribly difficult as many villages can only be reached on foot,” Dr Szoke said.
“Nepal faces the start of its monsoon rains in one month, driving the urgent need for the construction of robust shelters.
“Locally-sourced wood is available for beams and people are already planning to use debris to rebuild. We are working hard to help people as fast as possible but the terrain and subsequent travel challenges this poses are against us.”
Dr Szoke said there was food available in Gorkha, and supplies were being boosted by UN World Food Program. But in remote villages, local supplies are likely to run out within a week.
In addition to Oxfam aid now trucking into Gorhka from India, Oxfam has provided drinking water, temporary latrines and water systems in camps in and around Kathmandu in the aftermath of the April 25 Earthquake and aims to reach 350,000 people as soon as possible through its water and sanitation programs.