Months after the devastation of a series of earthquakes and aftershocks, small and large, that have left so many Nepalis deeply affected, traumatized, homeless and in desperate need, with whole communities wiped off the face of the map and millions still trying to get back on their feet, urgent needs remain. Too many communities still seek help and are left wondering how they will get it.
Yet in the midst of this overwhelming tragedy, groups, communities, families and individuals are rising up to take back control of their lives and helping those around them. They’re organizing, they’re reaching out, they’re rebuilding, and they’re bringing hope to a seemingly hopeless situation. It’s through their determination and their actions that Nepal will rebuild and recover — it’s through them that Nepal is rebuilding and recovering.
Mercy Corps moved quickly in the earliest days of the earthquake to reach out to help those who’d not yet received help, all across the Kathmandu Valley, Gorkha, Dhading, Nuwakot, Sindhupulchowk, Kavre and beyond. And yet we know that’s not enough. The road to recovery will be long and will require sustained, serious, smart engagement at all levels. But to effect positive change tomorrow, we must start making those smart investments today. It’s only through working together, listening to one another, cooperating and collaborating that we can do this.
We at Mercy Corps look around and see the loss and devastation. We realize that needs are enormous, as are the challenges we all face. With aftershocks still continuing, the onset of the monsoon and the threat of landslides ever present, we see short-term and long-term needs — as well as opportunities.
During this time of emergency relief, Mercy Corps continues to support communities who’ve yet to receive assistance, but we’re also transitioning to look at immediate structural needs and longer-term solutions.
Building on many years of experience across Nepal in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), a specialized DRR team is being mobilized across Nuwakot, Sindhupulchowk, Kavre and Dolakha, mapping out those areas most at risk to help communities map their own risks, draw up their disaster preparedness plans, safe evacuation routes, with care and attention to the most vulnerable and the lines of communication they need to seek assistance. The team is also identifying those areas in most urgent need of structural mitigation work when the monsoon rains will allow. The team seeks to help at risk communities be better aware, and more confident in their knowledge of what they face and how better to deal with those dangers, but also continue to work with these communities to ensure that they are physically and structurally safer and better protected.
Mercy Corps is also building on its long experience in financial services and sending out teams to map the current state of financial institutions — both formal and informal — to see how systems of cash transfers and savings and lending worked before the earthquake, what has since broken down and must be repaired and where those services never reached so that we can work with financial institutions, savings groups, microfinance institutions (MFIs), village savings and loan associations (VSLAs) and savings and credit co-operatives (SACCOs) to get money flowing into earthquake-affected communities so that people are able to save, plan, borrow and invest in their futures as they rebuild their houses, restock their businesses and grow.
And as they rebuild their homes, Mercy Corps and our partner Build Change want to work with home owners, builders, architects, engineers, universities, government authorities and others, to ensure that everyone has access to the information, skills, labor and services they need to build back better, stronger and safer than before, so that parents can be sure their children and their children’s children will never have to face the devastation of 2015.
Mercy Corps is dedicated to working together over the coming years with communities affected by the earthquakes, bringing together our years of experience in Nepal and worldwide, to help make sure that families, homes and communities are safer and more secure, markets are fair, accessible and serving all of society, that people have a voice and are no longer invisible, so that the next time we face a disaster together, we’re all better prepared and quicker to recover.