Nepal earthquake: Getting aid where it’s needed

Local volunteers with the Nepalese organisation ENPHO help load boxes of water purifiers into a CARE car for distribution

Includes updates added 29 April and 30 April

Immediate response

Our relief efforts started immediately after the quake hit. We have 150 staff based in Nepal – and in fact, two weeks before the earthquake hit, CARE held an earthquake simulation and emergency contingency training workshop in Nepal for key local staff and international emergency specialists, including Tom Newby, CARE International UK’s shelter team leader, who has just arrived back in country to assist the team.

So our staff were primed to respond, and even in the chaos and panic of the immediate aftermath, CARE Nepal staff were on the streets to begin to assess the needs and coordinate CARE’s response.

CARE staff member helps move rubble

CARE Nepal’s emergency response staff immediately set to work helping neighbours

Coordination and logistics

Coordination after a disaster of this size is crucial. Right now, CARE and other aid agencies are working with the UN and the Nepalese government to determine the extent of the needs and ensure we reach the most vulnerable people across the worst affected areas.

Barpak in Gorkha after the earthquake

Barpak in Gorkha district. Many families in Nepal have lost everything. Food, clothing, bedding and household items are buried under the ruins of people’s houses.

CARE has a long presence in Nepal and has been working with the most vulnerable communities for years, which gives us the added advantage of knowing the best way to reach people, using methods such as community mobilisation and building on the strong relationships that are already in place.

However, getting aid to the people who need it will be a challenge. Roads are damaged, mobile communications are patchy, and even before the disaster struck, many rural communities in the epicentre of the earthquake between Pokhara and Kathmandu were already in remote, hard to reach areas.

Cracks in the road in Kathmandu

CARE Nepal staff member Madhav Dhakal, who is from Gorkha, has been deployed there to assist with distribution of CARE packages and other responses (such as shelter and health support services). He reports that the area is severely damaged – almost all of the houses have collapsed. Distribution of relief items will be extremely difficult, as roads are damaged and weather conditions are deteriorating. Right now, helicopters are the only means of transportation to remote communities.

[Update 29 April: Yesterday afternoon one of the first trucks bringing our supplies in from India was stuck at a landslide on its way to Gorkha district. The landslide caused a big traffic jam on the road, causing a long delay.]

The weather is also a factor. People whose homes are destroyed, or are too unsafe to return to, are having to live out in the open. Even those with homes still standing are too afraid to go back inside, so many are sleeping outside, adding to security and protection issues for women and girls. Storms are forecast and it can be bitterly cold, particularly at night. The heavy rains of the monsoon season are also approaching.

A tent at a temporary camp in Kathmandu

Earthquake survivors who inhabit the main tented camp in the centre of Kathmandu where CARE has been assessing people’s WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) needs

CARE’s global network

CARE will be procuring emergency supplies in Nepal, India, and possibly Dubai. CARE India has already prepared CARE packages including shelter materials, hygiene kits and water cans.

[Update 29 April: 500 family kits - tarps, blankets, mattresses, hygiene kits, clothes and jerry cans - have now arrived at Kathmandu airport, 1,000 are on the road to Nepal, and 2,000 more kits are being purchased. CARE is planning to distribute 250 of these emergency shelter and hygiene kits in Gorkha today, Wednesday 29 April; some of these will be delivered by trekking for 4 hours to remote villages.]

CARE emergency teams arriving in Nepal are also taking the essentials with them: items such as tents, solar panels for charging equipment, solar lamps, water purification solution and more.

Sally Austin with CARE package

Sally Austin, CARE International's Head of Emergency Operations, loading supplies for shipment to Nepal as part of the emergency response

Water, sanitation and hygiene

Following any disaster, there is an increased risk of water-borne diseases as people have to live in temporary shelters without access to safe water or adequate sanitation. Infants, young children, and pregnant women are at greatest risk. This is why CARE is focusing our initial response on providing safe drinking water and sanitation support to help prevent the spread of waterborne diseases. Hygiene kits are also tailored to meet the needs of women and girls to preserve their dignity during these difficult times.

CARE's Santosh Sharma talking to a family at the Kathmandu tent camp

CARE’s emergency response leader Santosh Sharma (left) and a CARE colleague speaking with a family at a temporary tent camp in Kathmandu

Bottles of water purifier

CARE has procured 3,000 bottles of water purifier to be distributed in both Kathmandu and Gorkha. Three drops can purify up to one litre of water.

Update 30 April

  • We distributed emergency supplies in Hal Chouk, Kathmandu, to 1,131 people, including beaten rice (rice that has been cooked, flattened and dried), soap and liquid chlorine. The distribution was carried out in partnership with local partners.
  • A CARE team, including a team leader, technical experts, and a communications expert arrived in Gorkha yesterday. The team will assess the situation quickly in Gorkha town where CARE has an office and will organise distributions of family kits received from CARE India and the Australian Government.
  • Kits will be arriving from Australia today and Friday (746 hygiene kits, 746 blankets, 936 tarpaulins and 80,000 aquatabs). They will be transferred from the airport to Gorkha.
  • 500 family kits have arrived in Gorkha via road from India.
  • A total of 332 family kits were distributed yesterday in Gorkha, these include tarpaulins, sleeping mats, blankets, jerry cans and hygiene items such as soap.

CARE’s emergency response

Our initial response aims to reach 100,000 people with life-saving aid such as emergency shelter, clean water and family kits, which include tarpaulins, blankets, jerry cans and hygiene items. As more thorough assessments are completed, and as communications and transport to remote areas improve, CARE will transition to provide more durable solutions, supporting families to build back safer and reduce their vulnerability to future natural disasters.

CARE's Santosh Sharma talking to a family at the Kathmandu tent camp

CARE’s Santosh Sharma speaks with a family at the Kathmandu tent camp

Thank you for your support

Your contribution to the Nepal Earthquake Crisis Appeal is a crucial source of funds which enable us to address the rapidly changing needs of families affected by this deadly crisis. Your gift will help us position and deploy needed supplies and staff, make funds available to emergency-affected communities for immediate assistance, and provide long-term support to people and communities to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.

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News and stories are provided by CARE staff working to support our emergency responses and long-term development programmes.