Nepal Earthquake: two years on
Sixty-two-year old Dambar Kumal lost everything he owned when the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal in April 2015. It had been a day like any other; Dambar was hard at work planting seeds in the fields of Gorkha District, the epicentre of the tremor, when the earthquake struck. He hurried home to find his house flattened and his entire grain storage ruined by the country’s largest natural disaster in 80 years.
As the second anniversary of the earthquake approaches Dambar and his family finally have a new house. They have been living in a temporary bamboo shelter, a cramped space without protection from the elements. TEAR’s partner, International Nepal Fellowship (INF) staff assessed their needs and organised funding and the construction of their new earthquake-safe home.
It’s hard to believe it’s been two years since the Nepal earthquake, which struck between the country’s two largest cities of Kathmandu and Pokhara. It brought with it significant loss of life, injuries, and widespread damage to homes and infrastructure. TEAR responded through local partners in Nepal like INF – and also through Integral Alliance, a global alliance of Christian relief and development agencies responding to emergency situations around the world.
Rebuilding has been slow in many of the areas affected by the earthquake. Accessing adequate funds, sluggish government bureaucracy and the geographical challenges of construction in such mountainous countryside provide ongoing hurdles. Almost 9,000 people were killed in the 2015 earthquake; nearly 22,000 injured; and many more lost their homes and livelihoods. The rehabilitation and rebuilding required remains immense.
Bishnu Giri, Manager of the Gorkha Rehabilitation And Community Empowerment (GRACE) project, INF’s post-earthquake rebuilding project which TEAR has provided funding for, says: “The majority of people are still living in old houses and temporary shelters since the earthquake. Two years on, many still feel ongoing insecurity in their homes due to potential flooding or attacks from wild animals. Others have ongoing trauma from having lost loved ones or their homes.”
Across Gorkha District, where the earthquake flattened village after village, INF’s GRACE project is now well underway. Construction has begun on more than 100 houses for people with disabilities; five residential centres next to schools that are accessible to children with disability; and one public building in a remote village. Future works include modification to an additional 40 households and the reconstruction of three public toilets that are accessible for people with disability. The GRACE project also involves providing community based earthquake rehabilitation support to almost 1,500 people with disabilities.
“This part of the project aims to improve and increase access for people with disabilities to health services, education, work opportunities and meaningful social participation,” says Bishnu Giri. “GRACE’s approach to rehabilitation is combining empowerment and inclusion.”
Reporting and writing by Alex Barwick, INF Australia and Ram Prasad Sharma, INF Nepal