The development organisation Helvetas is working to provide emergency assistance and support reconstruction in Nepal. A sum of CHF 750,000 has been allocated for immediate efforts. Helvetas has been present in Nepal for 60 years. It can thus bring to bear much valuable experience and a network of local contacts, particularly in the provision of water and sanitation.
Helvetas has allocated CHF 750,000 for immediate emergency and reconstruction operations. Currently local staff are clarifying how these funds can be used most effectively. Helvetas will ensure that funds already planned for development efforts are channelled to people who have been most affected by the earthquake. Priority will be given to the construction or renovation of water and sanitation facilities. Helvetas also anticipates that of the 5,000 trail bridges that have been built with Swiss support, a number are likely to be damaged. The rapid assessment and repair of these bridges will be essential to ensure that those remote areas that are badly hit can be reached at all.
On the day after the earthquake in Nepal, the situation is still unclear. The death toll is rising on an hourly basis, and aftershocks and tremors continue to generate further anxiety and complicate the relief effort. Helvetas anticipates that the remote mountainous areas to the North-west and -east of Kathmandu are even more devastated than the capital. The districts of Lamung, Kaski, Syangja and Parbat, where Helvetas has worked for many years, lie close to the epicentre of the original quake. These regions are not only poorly developed, they are also poorly served by hospitals.
Nepal was the first country in which Swiss development cooperation commenced. Sixty years ago, Helvetas began its support to the Nepal government by providing medical assistance and agricultural extension. Today, Nepal is Helvetas’ largest country programme. The 230 local and five international staff oversee the implementation of projects in water supply and sanitation, vocational training, agriculture, and trail bridge construction in a programme totalling about CHF 20 million per annum. Helvetas is also recognised and appreciated by the State and civil society as a partner in the promotion of democracy and peace.
Matthias Herfeldt, Press Officer, +41 76 338 59 38