By Kiri Carter, ChildFund New ZealandBaby Jashika (2) and Ashmita (11) living in squatter camp. Home too unstable to return to. Photo: Jake Lyell/ChildFund
“Immediate needs include… and body bags.”
The last item jumped out and made me stop my hurried reading. I looked across at my colleague Arpana who sits next to me in our Auckland office. She was deep in concentration, processing the donations from generous Kiwis wanting to help children and families in Nepal. Arpana is from Kathmandu.
I had been reading the latest report from our ChildFund team in Nepal. It’s been nearly six days since a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck the Central and Western Regions of Nepal. The current death toll sits at more than 5,200 at the time of writing.
The report says that ‘the number of deaths is expected to increase as search and rescue teams reach remote areas. Eight million people in 39 districts have been affected, including 2 million people living in 11 severely affected districts. Aftershocks are still being felt. People are advised to stay in the open, and they continue to sleep outdoors in damp and cold conditions. Rainfalls have been predicted for the coming 10 days. Immediate needs include food, shelter, WASH [Water, Sanitation and Hygiene], medical teams, supplies and medications, medical tents, surgical kits and body bags.’
ChildFund is working in one of worst-hit districts, Sindhupalchowk where an estimated 80 per cent of houses have collapsed and up to 90 per cent of the health facilities have been severely damaged.Afraid to return indoors due to remaining, families sleep in makeshift tents in Lalitpur, Nepal. Photo: Jake Lyell/ChildFund
Villages in Sindhupalchowk are in remote areas. While major roads and routes have been opened, side access roads remain cut off by landslides or massive cracks. We found out this morning it’s already raining in Nepal. This means more misery as rain could trigger more landslides, flooding and, of course, the threat of waterborne diseases.
Last August a landslide caused by heavy rainfall in Sindhupalchowk killed 156 people including children who were at school. Country Director of ChildFund Nepal Mariko Tanaka told me that their young friends were too terrified to sleep for weeks for fear of being buried alive and needed counselling. Mariko is concerned for the mental and physical health of children and parents caught up in the current disaster.Supriya, 4 years of age: Family's home too unstable to return to. Living in park - Lalitpur, Nepal. Photo: Jake Lyell/ChildFund
Thankfully, for my colleague Arpana here, her family in Kathmandu is safe. They are indeed fortunate as they are in Lalitpur, Kathmandu where the photos on this blog were taken. It’s a comfort to know her family are fine. But Arpana, along with the rest of the ChildFund team, worries about the fates of children and families in places yet to be contacted by the outside world.
Today, our team in Nepal will try to reach some of the more remote villages with relief supplies.
The ANZAC Day earthquake and its aftershocks have wreaked devastation across Nepal and its effects will be felt for years to come. Disasters of this scale put regular development work on hold while communities’ immediate survival needs are met and recovery efforts are put in place. Right now, food, water, shelter, and medical aid are what’s needed.
ChildFund has been working in Nepal for 20 years and will continue to stand with the children and families of Nepal.