Hundreds of thousands of families in Nepal are facing another monsoon season living in temporary shelter after severe earthquakes rocked the country one year ago.
In scenes that shocked the world, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the country on 25 April, closely followed about a fortnight later by a second earthquake measuring 7.3 in magnitude.
Damage reports revealed a third of the population had been affected. Nearly 9,000 people died, more than 22,000 were injured and over 750,000 were damaged or destroyed.
Oxfam immediately responded by providing life-saving assistance, including drinking water and food items, and by setting up temporary shelters and emergency latrines. Thanks to a huge outpouring of support from the Australian people, Oxfam was able to provide humanitarian aid to almost half a million people, including life-saving clean water and shelter, but huge challenges still remain.
Oxfam Australia’s Humanitarian Manager Meg Quartermaine said while the steep Himalayan terrain, landslides, the monsoon season and fuel shortages had made for an extremely challenging disaster response, Oxfam and its partners were able to deliver aid to those who needed it most, reaching seven of the 14 worst affected districts.
“Oxfam’s main concern now is that a year on from the devastating Nepal earthquakes, affected families are still living in limbo in temporary shelters,” Ms Quartermaine said. “There are hundreds of thousands of families still waiting for government assistance to rebuild, and survivors now face spending a second monsoon under tin roofs.”
Families who lost their homes are required to present their land certificates to be eligible for financial assistance to rebuild, but much of this paperwork was destroyed when people’s houses collapsed in the quake. Those who were living on land they did not own are being sidelined completely in rebuilding efforts. Oxfam has been supporting landless people, and people without documents, including 1,450 women who were referred for legal assistance through women’s centres.
“Nepal’s National Reconstruction Authority should distribute these funds as a matter of urgency and ensure no-one is left behind in the reconstruction effort,” Ms Quartermaine said.
Oxfam Australia’s Chief Executive Dr Helen Szoke said the Australian public had played a significant part in helping Oxfam’s response teams and should be recognised for their contribution.
“We saw an extraordinary level of support from the public globally in the days after the earthquake, but Australians were particularly generous,” Dr Szoke said.
“This generosity meant we were able to rapidly respond to address immediate needs like water, shelter and sanitation, and then help people pick up the pieces over the months that followed.”
After the immediate response, Oxfam shifted focus to helping the Nepalese people get back on their feet with recovery initiatives, including the distribution of rice seeds, animal feed and tools to farmers who lost agricultural supplies in the disaster, and shelter construction training programs for those who lost their homes.
Oxfam also issued 6,000 compassionate grants, enabling people to buy life-saving food items and medicine. More than 20,400 vulnerable families joined the Oxfam Cash for Work program that provided them with short-term employment to rebuild community services. Oxfam further helped rebuilding people’s livelihoods by distributing enterprise development grants to close to 3,500 families.
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