April 24 2019

Struggling to Rebuild Nepal: Four Years After the Earthquakes

On April 28 and May 12, 2015, two major earthquakes struck Nepal, killing over 8,000 people and injuring 22,000 more. Many villages, schools, and essential infrastructure were completely destroyed or badly damaged.

 

Before the earthquakes, Nepal was already one of Asia’s poorest countries. According to World Vision, mountainous rural areas had poor infrastructure, which amplified the destruction. Houses made of stacked stones or wood and mud were no match for the force of intense shaking and landslides, and many homes and entire villages collapsed.

With over two million people displaced and destruction widespread, the UN pleaded for 423 million USD to respond to emergency needs. Priorities included providing emergency shelter, food, and medical supplies, as well as mitigating the risk of diseases.

 

Challenging Relief Efforts

Mounting a huge operation anywhere would be difficult, but Nepal offered particular challenges. According to the Red Cross, the obstacles were daunting, with many survivors living in remote mountain villages cut off from the outside world by poor or non-existent roads and blocked by landslides.

According to the European Institute for Asian Studies, “terrain makes it extremely difficult to connect the remote rural regions –some of which are not served by any kind of land transportation systems –during regular times, not to mention during a post-disaster state of emergency.”  To make matters worse, Nepal’s annual monsoons began in early June, with freezing winters ahead. Many families lost their thick-walled homes and needed more than temporary shelters for protection against the extreme cold.

 

Hardships for Earthquake Survivors

While relief workers struggled to help people through the emergency, survivors reeled from the magnitude of the destruction.  Many people lost not only family members, but their home and all of their possessions.  Farmers lost livestock, crops, and tools. Children couldn’t go to school. Health centers and hospitals were damaged, as were water and sanitation systems. Furthermore, as reported by World Vision, social upheaval and poor living conditions made women and children more vulnerable to abuse and exploitation.

 

Struggling to Rebuild

As the Nepalese people are known for their resilience and were used to dealing with hardships, they worked tirelessly with the assistance they received and a great deal of determination to rebuild their lives. However, according to The World Report on Nepal by the Human Rights Watch, the slow pace of reconstruction efforts, mired by corruption, left much of the funds raised by the international community largely undistributed and reinforced social and economic marginalization.

 

Four years later, Nepal is still struggling to recover from the earthquakes, rebuild lives, and strengthen for the future.

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