Christian Aid partners are providing urgent relief to victims of the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck Nepal and parts of India, leaving over 2,300 dead and thousands more severely injured.
Entire communities living have been devastated by the disaster. Some 6.6 million people are affected, with the death toll set to rise as rescue efforts continue. Unconfirmed reports from the ground suggest that 80% of homes have collapsed near the epicentre, while hospitals are struggling to cope with the scale of the disaster.
Thousands are being forced live out in the open, due to the risk of further aftershocks. In response, Christian Aid with its partners in Nepal and India are assessing the scale of damage in some of the hardest-hit areas and identifying the most pressing needs: these include access to safe drinking water, food, shelter and hygiene kits.
This work will be funded by Christian Aid’s emergency appeal, launched yesterday. The charity has already sent £50,000 to support the work local partner agencies in the region, and will scale up its operations in the days and weeks ahead.
Christian Aid’s sister agency Lutheran World Foundation Nepal (LWF), part of the ACT Alliance, already has teams in place on the ground. LWF will be assisting with the coordination of emergency supplies at a government-run camp, due to begin providing temporary shelter from today.
Other Christian Aid partners are joining the relief efforts. Local organisation PGVS, which works on the Nepal/India border on disaster preparedness, will be distributing 100,000 sets of water purification kits supplied by Christian Aid. Meanwhile humanitarian response experts RedR and water treatment group Aquaplus will also deliver much-needed aid.
Christian Aid’s Ram Kishan, Regional Emergency Manager of South Asia, based in Delhi, said: “Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the region and has one of the least capacities to deal with an emergency of this scale. Medical services and hospitals are facing an immense strain at the moment. In Kathmandu Valley, hospitals are overcrowded, running out of room for storing corpses and also running short of emergency supplies.
“At the moment we know that 6.6m people have been affected. However, the numbers are likely to increase because the earthquake epicentres – mainly Gorkha, Makwanpur and Lamjung – are still not accessible. Those affected will have immediate and long-term needs emerging in the coming days. The most pressing need at the moment is for food, water supplies, medication, blankets, hygiene kits and other essentials for people who are displaced.”
Commenting on the longer term impact, Ram Kishan said: “Largely, people are going to be hit in terms of housing, access to basic amenities and livelihoods. Access to many places in Nepal under normal circumstances is very limited, but many villages are now cut off from the main highways. A lot of people are dependent on small shops, and they will be hard-hit because many of the villages will be cut off: farmers’ produce will not be able to get to the markets.
“The number of deaths will have a serious impact on the households. There will also be significant disruption to essential services – water supplies, sanitation facilities and electricity are already in a bad shape, and this is going to be further affected because of the impact to public infrastructure.”
This was Nepal’s worst earthquake in eight decades. The disaster also reached the neighbouring north Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, and West Bengal.
Ram Kishan said: “At the moment, the deaths confirmed in India are 64: the majority are in the northern states of Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. Some of the public infrastructure there has been damaged and some houses have collapsed. We are in touch with groups in all these states to get more information on the extent of the damage.”