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Home / About us / Our Blog / Earthquake Recovery: An Update from Dr. Gerda Pohl
29 Jun 15

Earthquake Recovery: An Update from Dr. Gerda Pohl

PHASE works closely with communities in isolated Himalayan villages in Nepal. For nearly a decade we have helped to empower these communities to access healthcare, education and livelihood opportunities in a sustainable way.

Many of our staff were on the ground during the recent earthquakes in Nepal, and the subsequent aftershocks and landslides. Our staff were among the first to provide relief aid and support to those affected. PHASE will continue to support these communities for the long-term, enabling them to rebuild their lives and to become empowered.

PHASE are currently providing support to about 35,000 people living in 12 villages in the Sindhupalchok and Gorkha districts which were severely affected by the earthquakes. Over 90% of houses in these villages in Sindhupalchok and 70-80% in those in Gorkha have been completely destroyed and paths to the project area in Gorkha have been swept away or blocked by landslides. Almost all of our Gorkha project villages are still inaccessible, apart from by helicopter.

 

What aid is PHASE currently providing?

We have completed distribution of corrugated iron sheets to all households in Hagam, Sindhupalchok and Sirdibas, Gorkha. We are currently in the process of distributing these sheets to Fulpingdanda, Sindhupalchok and Kashigaun, Gorkha and are hoping to cover all 6 remaining project VDCs within the next 3 weeks (Chumchet and Chhekampar have been covered by other organisations).

These sheets are being distributed so villagers can construct temporary structures for themselves, providing emergency shelter. It is currently the monsoon season and immediate and quick-to-assemble shelter is essential in order to protect communities from the harsh weather conditions. For those families or households who are unable to construct a shelter themselves, PHASE is employing and paying local skilled labourers to create these temporary homes for them.

In addition to providing materials for temporary shelter, PHASE has been distributing other essentials resources. These have included blankets and sleeping mats, as well as mosquito nets, tools and buckets. We have also been providing food and crop seeds.

PHASE staff in Nepal have been carrying out assessments of each community in order to determine what existing resources they have, and what they will need to survive the monsoon. This will enable PHASE to distribute aid in the most effective manner, and ensure that people’s needs are met.

 

What about PHASE’s existing projects?

PHASE’s health, education and livelihood projects in the Far West of Nepal (Bajura and Humla districts) have not been affected by the earthquakes and are continuing as planned, although the monsoon season does mean risk of landslides and more problems for our staff when they have to move between villages.

We are continuing to look for funds to widen our work in this region, and are about to start a new livelihoods project in Mugu district this autumn.

In the earthquake affected areas, PHASE’s core work is also continuing:

One of PHASE’s key aims is to provide education to children in Nepal. We do this in a variety of ways – from supporting government schools to provide a better learning environment (such as extra classrooms or toilets), to training teachers in child-friendly education methods and providing alternative catch-up classes for children who have missed out on schooling. This can be due to the fact that many teachers do not remain in remote schools for prolonged periods, and that children must often travel very long distances to school – some five year olds must walk for up to an hour across mountainous terrain!

Natural disasters and emergencies can also result in children missing out on schooling. Thousands of schools in Nepal have been destroyed by the recent earthquakes and many of those that still stand are now used as emergency shelters. As a result it has been estimated that around 1 million children have been unable to return to school. Many children risk losing out on important skills including numeracy and literacy.

In many PHASE project areas the existing school buildings were too badly damaged to be used.


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