Two major earthquakes – measuring 7.8 and 7.3 in magnitude – hit Nepal within 3 weeks of each other, affecting more than 8 million people. The first was the worst quake to strike the region in more than 80 years, killing thousands and injuring thousands more. There is massive destruction to houses, productive assets, business and basic infrastructure in rural villages.
The disaster has disproportionately affected poorer residents who lived in mud and stone houses that crumbled and are in hard-to-reach areas of mountainous terrain, cut off during the monsoon by flooding and landslides. In addition to the physical damage caused by the earthquakes, levels of fear, anger, frustration and hopelessness among the affected population are rising in the face of a system that is struggling to meet immediate and medium-term needs.
Within 48 hours of the initial quake, Mercy Corps began distributing emergency non-food relief items (NFRIs) kits, tents and tarps to households and schools in Kathmandu Valley. Our teams conducted simultaneous assessments, in coordination with district-level government, to identify areas in need of immediate relief and longer-term support.
We continue to work collaboratively with local government line agencies and District Disaster Relief Committees (DDRC) in Kavrepalanchowk, Sindhupalchowk, Dolakha and Nuwakot, where Mercy Corps and local partner Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) are distributing emergency kits and unrestricted cash to earthquake affected households. Mercy Corps mobilized its existing partnerships with China Foundation for Poverty Alleviation (CFPA) to distribute kits to affected households and tents, tarps and raincoats to schools. With their support and funding from DfID and USAID/OFDA – as well as funds donated to Mercy Corps for the Nepal earthquake response – 23,000 households will be reached with emergency assistance.
Water and sanitation infrastructure was badly damaged by the earthquakes, and with the onset of the monsoon season the hygiene situation has become even more urgent. A key part of Mercy Corps’ response efforts is a hygiene promotion campaign around sanitation and public health. Mercy Corps is working with communities to repair and maintain a limited, but crucial number of drinking supply systems and toilets, training households on water quality testing and distributing extra hygiene kits to vulnerable community members.
Cash assistance is provided to earthquake-affected populations through local service providers. The money is transferred from Mercy Corps to a local community intermediary, working with banks, co-operatives and local vendors in the marketplace – depending on the local context and availability of financial services. Once the cash is transferred, beneficiaries are informed on where and when they can pick up their cash.
Unconditional cash allows distressed families to purchase the items that are most important to them – seeds and agricultural tools, food, school fees, building materials – while giving local economies the boost they need for long-term recovery.
Consolidated NFRI kits received by earthquake-affected households include:
Bars of antiseptic soap - Dettol
Medium sized towels
One-liter water bottles
Water purification tablets
Plastic bucket with lid
Sari for women
Three meters of cotton cloth
Sewing kit with scissors
Toothbrushes – for kids and adults
Stainless steel or aluminum pot - large
Stainless steel pot - medium
Stainless steel pot - small
Stainless steel plates
Stainless steel cups
Stainless steel cooking spoon
Stainless steel ladle
12 x 18 foot taurpaulin
10 meter rope
Roll of plastic string
Double woolen blankets
Collapsible jerry can
Treated mosquito nets
Solar lamp; some with separate solar panel and mobile charging