In April 2015 the worst disaster to strike Nepal in decades left 9,000 people dead and 2.8 million in need of humanitarian aid. The 7.8 magnitude Ghorka earthquake caused widespread chaos and destruction across the country.
Within a week of the disaster Islamic Relief teams were on the ground providing lifesaving aid and have been working there since, helping communities rebuild their lives and address the many long-term challenges they face.
Islamic Relief’s initial three-year response helped more than 2,000 families in the remote Himalayan district of Rasuwa, as we set up permanent accommodation for families, built and repaired water supplies and provided opportunities for them to earn a living. We also trained and supported women and girls from over 250 families to ensure they had access to the training and services they need.
Building the resilience of those most vulnerable
Since the earthquake response, Islamic Relief has been building the resilience of communities through disaster risk reduction programmes and supporting access to food and livelihoods. We’re also running projects to protect vulnerable members of society, promote education and provide safe access to water and sanitation.
“Life has moved on since the earthquake for many communities but some of the poorest families have still not been able to rebuild their homes or find ways of earning a decent living,” says Talha Jamal, Islamic Relief’s Head of Mission in Nepal. “Without safe access to water, decent livelihoods and left vulnerable to protection issues, people are still caught up on in a cycle of poverty and suffering.”
Supporting women’s livelihoods in Namadi
In the district of Ramecchap in north-eastern Nepal, the people of Namadi in Gokulganaga have been struggling with ashortage of rainfall that has led to a drop in crop production. As agriculture is the main source of income, this increases their vulnerability during periods of drought, leaving them without sufficient access to food and water.
To support the community, Islamic Relief established the Lalupate Community Organisation, a female-led community group that has been meeting every month since July 2019 to discuss disaster response mechanisms in their community.
“At the beginning we thought monthly discussions on disaster recovery were just a waste of time,” says one member. However, as they reflect almost ten months on, they have been pleasantly surprised by the invaluable lessons they’ve learnt.
Through the community organisation the group identified that the best course of action would be to construct a plastic pond to reduce the impact of drought in their community. Islamic Relief then helped the women of Namadi to implement this savvy idea.
Standing near the bamboo fencing of their new pond, one member of the group describes the impact it will have on her community. “The project provided the funds to construct this 30,000 litre capacity pond.. We are happy that we will now have water for our garden and animals. At the very least, we will be able to produce food for our family.”
We’re ready to respond to the impact of COVID-19
Islamic Relief has distributed food to more than 500 families in Nepal. Our Disaster Response Team provided food parcels to the villages of Bhimtar and Shipapokhari in the Sindhpal Chowk district following an assessment. Islamic Relief will be carrying out more food distribution shortly, and plans to return to the villages to distribute tents and plastic sheeting.
This year, on the anniversary of the Ghorka earthquake that changed so many lives, Islamic Relief Nepal’s work is centred on combating the effects of COVID-19. The global crisis and local lockdown measures are having a devastating effect on the poorest communities. For those that live hand-to-mouth, the crisis has left many without any source of income, leaving them without sufficient food for survival or access to healthcare.
“To cope with the pandemic, people need food and hygiene kits and we also need to raise awareness of safe practices. We’re gearing up to provide all of this in as many communities as we can,” says Talha Jamal. “Throughout the coronavirus pandemic and beyond we will continue to support the most vulnerable people including marginalised groups, migrants, daily wage earners, pregnant women, children at risk of harm and people with disabilities.
“I thank Allah and all those who have supported our earthquake response and the work we have been doing in Nepal for the last five years. I feel humbled in serving humanity at a time when they need us most and we will continue to do all we can to support those most at risk in these difficult times.”
With conditions deteriorating daily in the country as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, we are in urgent need of support to continue our essential work. Now, more than ever, we need your help so we can be there for those who need us. Please donate to our Coronavirus Appeal now.