It has been more than a month since a 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit the central region of Nepal on the 25th of April. The initial earthquake was followed by a 7.3 magnitude quake on the 12th of May and aftershocks before and after the second quake. The scale of the disaster is still impossible to calculate, but sadly it is safe to say that it is enormous.
The two earthquakes have left more than 21,000 people injured and according to the United Nations Residents Coordination’s Office (UNCRO) the official death toll has already reached 8,658. The Nepalese Prime Minister Sushil Koirala has said that the eventual death toll could rise above 10,000.
Risk of further landslides, diseases and flooding
More than half a million homes have been destroyed, most of them in rural areas out off from emergency medical care. As aftershocks continue to be felt, the country remains perilously unstable and at risk of landslides and the spread of diseases, while buildings in urban areas are in danger of collapse. Thousands of people are still living in tents and there are fears that the situation will worsen during the forthcoming monsoon period, which runs from June until September.
Assessing damage in Gorkha district
Our local partner in Nepal, NEWAH, is continually assessing the damage to WASH facilities in Gorkha. Gorkha is one of the districts most heavily affected by the disaster (it is located in the epicentre) and one of Simavi’s WASH working areas. The damage to many houses and schools in this district, including the collapse of many buildings, has left the people of Gorkha deprived of food and shelter and other basic needs such as water and sanitation.
NEWAH has performed WASH damage and needs assessments on 14036 households in our project areas in the Gorkha district, using Akvo flow, a smartphone field survey application. Of these households, 9150 are damaged, 3397 improved toilets are totally damaged and 3006 improved toilets are partially damaged. More information, such as water supply systems status and needs, can be expected soon.
In the meantime, the residents of Gorkha are building temporary homes. Their strength and resilience is truly inspiring. As the analyses continue, field staff have been mobilised to raise awareness on WASH at temporary shelters in affected areas. NEWAH and V-WASH CC have jointly provided the Village Development Committees (VDC) in affected households with hygiene kits that include hand washing soap and sanitary pads.
Follow-up WASH programmes
Based on the outcomes of the assessment we will start to consider how to proceed with the WASH programmes in Gorkha. This decision will be made in close collaboration with our local partners. Simavi is a country team member of the Nepal WASH alliance and the Nepal country team has proposed a formal follow-up to the Dutch WASH Alliance’s programme group on how to follow-up the WASH programmes per partner. We have accordingly started to re-plan our programme based on the approved budget and this plan will be submitted once the damage and needs assessments have been completed.