Delivering aid in Nepal: A race against the monsoons

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Sydney, Australia, 19 May 2015: ChildFund’s emergency team in Nepal will be initiating a second food distribution this week for children and families in Sindhupalchok district, one of the areas worst hit by two major earthquakes – the first of which shook the country on 25 April, closely followed by another massive quake on 12 May.

The number of people killed by the two powerful earthquakes has now surpassed 8,500 people, making it the deadliest disaster on record in Nepal.

Conditions are extremely challenging for aid workers trying to reach Nepal’s remote villages. The region around Kathmandu is steep and rugged, meaning trucks delivering aid have to navigate a complex web of roads that snake their way around mountainsides with sheer drops into the canyons below. These roads are dangerous at the best of times, but the combination of rain and nearly daily aftershocks continue to trigger landslides, making the task of delivering food and supplies even more difficult.

ChildFund’s second round of food distribution will start in Pangretar, a remote village located about 4 hours east of Kathmandu in central Nepal. Each family will receive 30kg rice, 4kg dhal, 1kg salt and 2 litres of cooking oil ÛÒ based on UN recommendations. With three other villages also receiving help from ChildFund, this distribution will eventually reach more than 14,000 people.

In this rural area, families are running low on food stocks, relying on food aid from ChildFund to supplement what little food they have remaining from their terraced fields. Families have also been sharing food with friends and other family members to survive.

“Hundreds of people remain homeless in our areas, nearly a month after the first quake hit. Our priority is to provide food and shelter for all those who are vulnerable. This must be done as quickly as possible before the monsoons arrive at the end of the month,” said Mariko Tanaka, ChildFund’s country director in Nepal.

ChildFund is also organising child-centered spaces – safe refuges where children can play and learn until their schools reopen. With some 23 schools damaged in ChildFund’s working areas, these spaces will provide a ‘normalising’ environment for children and allow trained volunteers to monitor child trauma, which may occur as a result of the earthquakes, the ongoing tremors and the loss of homes and loved ones.

ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence says: “Our primary concern is for the safety and wellbeing of children affected by this terrible disaster. While it is reassuring that aid is getting through, huge challenges remain and it will be a long road to recovery for these children and their families. We thank everyone who is continuing to support the relief effort in Nepal.”

ChildFund has been working in Nepal in 1995. ChildFund’s emergency response in Nepal is being funded through ChildFund Alliance member offices in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Japan, Korea, New Zealand, Spain, Sweden and the USA.

Watch this video to hear from 11-year-old Ayush and his mum

Sydney, Australia, 27 April 2015: ChildFund Australia has launched an emergency appeal to provide urgent care and protection for children who’ve lost homes and loved ones in the powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal on Saturday.

Initial government reports confirm that 30 out of 75 districts in the country have been affected about 40 per cent of the country. The earthquake was also felt across the region in India, Tibet, China and Bangladesh.

ChildFund staff in Nepal report the situation on the ground is absolutely devastating and the number of people killed, injured and affected by this earthquake continues to rise. As of this morning, more than 2,200 people have been confirmed dead and almost 6,000 injured, with these figures expected to increase as more bodies are uncovered from the rubble.

“There is an urgent need for food, water, medicine and shelter,” says Mariko Tanaka, ChildFund’s country director in Nepal. “Currently there is no electricity. Communication lines are also down. Many people have been displaced from their homes and have spent the night out in the open. There are many people injured and hospitals are unable to handle the situation.”

ChildFund, which has been working in Nepal for 20 years, is responding in Sindhupalchok district, one of the worst-affected areas. Initial reports from our partner staff estimate 80 per cent of mud houses in the communities have been destroyed. Children and families are now staying outdoors in freezing temperatures and need immediate assistance.

“Our primary concern is for the care and protection of children affected by this terrible disaster,” says ChildFund Australia CEO Nigel Spence. “We are working with our colleagues in Nepal to ensure the immediate needs of children are met. Our team on the ground is conductingÊa rapid assessment so that our response can get underway.”

Nigel Spence and Mariko Tanaka are both available for comment.