*First published 29th April, 2015
Firstly, thank you – there has been overwhelming support from all corners of the globe for PHASE over the last 4 days.
The full extent of the damage in Nepal is still unknown and although some reports are starting to emerge from more remote areas, we can only imagine the true extent of the devastation. In some PHASE project areas over 90% of buildings have been destroyed – people have lost everything. As communities run out of food and the rains continue, they become more and more vulnerable – Communities in Nepal need us now more than ever and at the same time as this disaster starts to fall out of the news, the situation will worsen.
Sindhulpalchok and Gorkha, two of our main project areas were amongst the worst affected areas. The earthquake, subsequent heavy rain and landslides have made it almost impossible to access these regions, but we are working hard to get support there. Our current priority is to get supplies of food and shelter to those most in need. We also want to get medical supplies to the villages in order for our health posts to get up and running and provide urgent medical support.
The PHASE office in Kathmandu is operational and has internet and power. Initially staff were working under a tarpaulin outside the office due to the risk of aftershocks. However, they are now back inside our building (which luckily survived with just a small crack in a wall). The Kathmandu team are not only working hard to source supplies and transport, they are also maintaining contact with staff in the field.
As of our last contact with staff on the 29th April they remain safe. Our young female health workers continue to help despite desperate circumstances – they are currently trying to dig out medical supplies from under the rubble in order to help the injured. Both health posts in Sindhulalchok region, Hagam and Fulpingkot, have collapsed – as have all six health posts in Gorkha.
Projects in the far west have not been majorly affected and have been continuing to support villagers where possible. However staff in these regions are very concerned about their families as many of them have lost their homes. Most of them are now on their way back to Kathmandu as previously planned for our six monthly staff meeting and training, instead we are asking them to volunteer to relieve their colleagues in badly hit areas.
Today (29th April) we were able to send our first shipment of aid to the Sindhulpalchok region – we sourced 70 bags of rice and 120 tents. The road toward Jalbire is now blocked by landslides but we have been assured that it will be open tomorrow. We sent the first truck with supplies to Sindhupalchok – to one of the nearby villages where the need is just as high.
Tomorrow three of our health staff will get as close as they can to our project areas with supplies, then walk to Hagam and Fulpingkot to gather groups of people who can carry those supplies into the communities. Once done, the staff will stay in the health posts in Hagam and Fulpingkot to treat the injured and begin the daunting task of minimising the risk of the inevitable health crisis resulting from people drinking contaminated water, disease from dead livestock and limited access to food.
In upper Gorkha (Chhekampar, Chumchet and Sirdibas) we are running health services with limited materials to support the most injured. We have been trying to get a helicopter to this region but have so far have been unsuccessful , so we will now explore overland options.
We remain very concerned about lower Gorkha – the Kashigaun, Kerauja and Manbu regions. This area was very close to the epicentre and was severely affected by the earthquake. The map below shows the PHASE project areas (blue dots with red rims) and all the Earthquakes in Nepal over 4.5+ magnitude in the last 7 days (all the other dots). The largest quake (7.8 magnitude) is shown in green.
We have been in touch with Dr Elena Hazelgrove-Planel our of our GP volunteers who was in Kashigaun village, Gorkha at the time of the earthquake and remains there now. It is one of the worst affected areas, despite this the staff are continuing to treat patients there. Elena reported that yesterday they saw a mother who had very recently given birth but had a retained placenta, a life threatening complication of childbirth. PHASE health worker Anita was able to remove this. Had PHASE not been there to respond to this emergency the mother may very likely not have survived, putting her new born baby at huge risk (there is no formula milk available in these cut off communities).
The survivors of the earthquake in Gorkha and other badly affected areas are extremely vulnerable right now. We have had little contact with the staff in this area and are concerned about access to food and water, although we understand the army have brought in limited supplies.
PHASE has raised around £32,000 since the start of the Emergency Appeal and offers of help from a wide range of sources – schools, London Pharmacists, medics, Rotherham Titans Rugby team and many others, have poured in.