NEPAL: AN OVERVIEW OF THE DISASTER
On 25 April, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal causing widespread destruction and loss of life. The initial earthquake was followed by thousands of aftershocks and another powerful quake on 12 May measuring 7.3 in magnitude.
The earthquakes caused 8,659 deaths (4,771 female; 3,887 male) and injured over 100,000 people – 384 people are still missing.
Of the 75 districts in Nepal, 14 were severely affected. These districts are located in the Central and Western Region including the Kathmandu Valley. About 5.4 million people live in the 14 districts.
Over 500,000 houses have been destroyed and 269,000 damaged. Afraid of returning to their homes, many people remain in makeshift tents along road sides or in friends and neighbours’ gardens. Some people have started to clear debris and rebuild their damaged homes using available local materials but do not have adequate tools and information necessary to safely rebuild their homes.
Some 95,100 people remain displaced. In 12 of the 14 districts, 374 sites continue to host people who are unable to return home. The Government of Nepal has identified 16 open spaces in the Kathmandu Valley for the establishment of camps. Partners continue to identify additional spaces and improve existing sites.
One month since the disaster, humanitarian partners estimate that 2.8 million people need humanitarian assistance for at least another four months – 864,000 people in remote villages are in immediate need as they have lost their homes and live below the poverty line. Reaching these most vulnerable communities is a priority to ensure that they are provided with adequate shelter and basic needs to strengthen their resilience ahead of the heavy monsoon rains which begin in June and can last until September.
An estimated 1.4 million people are in need of food assistance and the impact on agriculture-based livelihoods is high.
The next planting season starts in June, by which time farmers have to transplant rice to avoid food insecurity. About 236,000 people need immediate livelihood support for agricultural inputs (including rice and vegetable seeds). This is aggravated by the large loss of livestock. The 12 May earthquake also damaged additional food storage facilities reducing already limited stocks. Malnutrition rates in certain areas of Nepal are among the highest in the world.
Water supplies were severely affected increasing public health risks including the spread of WASH related disease. It is estimated that about 1.1 million people have lost access to protected water supplies and toilets. The monsoon rains are expected to cause floods which can further damage water systems.
Information on sanitation and hygiene needs to be disseminated to communites to ensure that precautions are undertaken to mitigate potential health risks.
Key infrastructure - including schools, health facilities, access roads, temples and heritage sites - has been damaged or destroyed.
Over 1,000 health facilities were destroyed or severely damaged including primary health care centres, village health posts and birthing centres. About 32 per cent of facilities providing specialized maternal and neonatal services were also destroyed.
Some 1 million children will be unable to return to school when classes resume at the end of May with over 30,000 classrooms destroyed and 15,350 damaged.
About half of the monuments and historic buildings within the Kathmandu Valley World Heritage Site and hundreds outside were destroyed. These sites are an invaluable loss to the living Nepali cultures.
The earthquakes have intensified pre-existing vulnerabilities. Relief efforts will need to continue to identify and respond to distinct structural and situational factors that increase vulnerabilities at both local and community levels, including for women, children, the elderly, minorities and people with disabilities. Many people affected by the disaster are highly vulnerable on the basis of socio-economic, language, religious, caste, ethnic and geographic factors.
The situation of women and girls is of particular concern. Women and girls in Nepal are disadvantaged by traditional practices such as early marriage, stigmatization of widows, seclusion of women and domestic violence. In the aftermath of a disaster the risk of sexual violence, exploitation and abuse, trafficking, forced prostitution and marriage may be heightened.
With five logistics and three coordination hubs strategically established across the country, humanitarian partners are well-positioned to reach affected communities. A common supply chain to reach remote villages has been set up and is being further strengthened. Standard aid delivery by truck and helicopter is being complemented by traditional Nepalese methods including porters. Trails are being assessed – repair and rehabilitation will begin to facilitate the transport of relief goods and reopen local market access. Landslides, damaged roads, unseasonal rains and mountainous terrain continue to pose significant logistical challenges. With the upcoming monsoon weather expected to significantly constrain access, support is urgently needed to ensure that pipelines are well established to continue relief operations.
This Flash Appeal calls for US$422 million to respond to the life-saving and protection needs and support resilience of 2.8 million people for five months. It covers all vulnerable groups, including women, children, people temporarily displaced by the earthquake, host communities, ethnic and indigenous groups and other affected people. The targets presented in this document are based on cluster assessments and calculations as to what can be delivered.
The appeal duration was extended beyond the initial three months to take into account the effects of the monsoon on the emergency phase and to ensure linkage with the recovery and rehabilitation programme of the Government of Nepal.
- UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
- To learn more about OCHA's activities, please visit https://www.unocha.org/.