Nepalese earthquake: 6 months on, unrest and approaching winter worsen the situation
Malteser International provides aid to 70,000 people
Faced with the onset of winter, Malteser International is preparing further aid measures for the districts of Sindhupalchok and Kavre, northeast of the capital. “Nepali weather forecasters are saying that there is a severe winter coming,” explains Arno Coerver, the Malteser International Country Coordinator in Kathmandu, “During the winter, the snowline drops to approximately 2,000 meters, which will affect some of our projects.” Winterized shelters are being built in cooperation with locals in 63 settlements in the 7 communities that comprise the Malteser International project area. This will be equipped with a solar light, as well as a smokeless stove for heating and cooking. Building and insulation material, as well as winter clothing, blankets, mattresses and staple food items will be distributed to an additional 1,250 families in a situation of special need.
In the six months following the earthquake, Malteser International was able to provide aid to 70,000 people, with a total project volume of around 1,000,000 euro. More than 10,000 families – around 62,000 people – were provided with staple foodstuffs, hygiene articles, tarpaulins, and toolkits, as well as given help to clear the rubble from their homes and villages. Since May, almost 7,500 sick and wounded people have received treatment at the Malteser International supported field hospital in Lamosanghu near to the Chinese border.
Since the introduction of the new Nepalese constitution, political friction has led to unrest in the Terai region and blockades on the border between India and Nepal, which have made relief efforts increasingly difficult. “The trucks with our building materials have been at the border for six weeks,” Coerver reports. “There are lines of vehicles between 7 and 11 kilometers long. We hope that following the swearing-in of the new Prime Minister, there will be some progress on the negotiations between Nepal and India. But even then, it will take at least two weeks before the backlog of vehicles is cleared.” A complicating factor is the current blockage of the fuel supply and the start of the two-week Dashain festival – the most important in the Nepali calendar – when people traditionally return to their home villages.
“We now need to get the building material to the outlying villages, which all lie at an altitude of between 700 and 2,000 meters as soon as possible,” stresses Coerver. In order to protect people in the shelters from cold and damp, the walls and roof of the houses need to be built from two layers, with insulation material in between. A plastic sheet under the floor prevents moisture from rising up. Latrines and handwashing stations will also be built. “The families receive the building materials free from us and build the houses themselves under our guidance,” explains Coerver.
Malteser International will continue to support the country through the coming three years together with its local partners – the Rural Self-Reliance Development Centre (RSDC), Dhulikhel Hospital and Kathmandu University. Alongside the rebuilding of houses and community centres, as well as medical care at a field hospital, the focus of this aid will be the provision of further medical stations and teams, the repair of water supply systems, the provision of psychosocial support and projects to provide a livelihood for affected people.
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