Lack of water, toilets making things worse for women in Nepal

Lack of water, toilets making things worse for women in Nepal

It has now been over 10 days when Nepal was devastated by a massive earthquake. The death toll has crossed 7000 and is still rising. Thousands more are severely injured.

Oxfam is on the ground and is providing relief supplies. A team of Oxfam from India has set up base in Gorkha district, which is one of the worst affected.

As I travel to the remote areas of Gorkha district and visit small, scattered and mountainous villages, the true face of the destruction by the earthquake emerges.

A village named Dera, which houses 76 families, has been left in ruins. Of the 76 houses in the village, some of have collapsed completely and the remaining have been damaged to the extent of rebuilding from scrap.

Nepal Earthquake Response

Most of the houses in the village are partially or completely collapsed.

Water pipes are broken, toilets are broken, schools are gone. Any resemblance to a normal village was completely gone. 

Oxfam is providing tarpaulin sheets, hygiene kits and water to 13 of the 77 villages in Gorkha district. Relief materials are being bought in India and transported through a land route to the district.

Monsoons will add the woes

But people in the villages want transitional shelters to withstand the monsoons, expected to arrive next month. 

For those three months of monsoon, the tarpaulin sheets will not be enough. Communities need corrugated metal roofing sheets, which will give them cover from the harsh rains. We are thinking of buying these metal sheets and provide them to the community.

For Oxfam this earthquake and the relief work in Nepal presents a whole new set of challenges – the tough terrain, communities are remote, difficult to access, badly devastated and with the monsoons coming.

No access to water and toilets

Water is a big problem, especially for women. All the pipes in the village, which supplied water for drinking, washing and bathing are no longer functional. Toilets is also a big issue. All the toilets have been completely destroyed and there are serious safety concerns. Women are forced to look for private spaces in the open. 

Nepal Earthquake Response

Toilets in the district has been destroyed

The World Food Programme (WFP) has been distributing food in villages that can be accessed through roads. In more remote regions, food is being dropped through helicopters.

Oxfam is working with a partner in Gorkha district. That has really helped in the distribution of material because the partner has been working in that area for many years now. The partner has been working in five of the 13 villages Oxfam is responding to in Nepal. But we want to extend their support to all 13 villages. The support of our partner and local volunteers has really boosted the distribution process as they know the local language and the community.

The tremors are not yet over

In my interaction with the local community, I met a man who worked in Qatar. He rushed to Nepal, to his home in Gorkha district, after hearing about the earthquake.

Nepal Earthquake Response

Houses in Dera village, Gorkha district have been reduced to rubble.

“My house is gone. Me and my family are sleeping in the open. It will now take another 10 years to rebuild my house. All my life savings were spent on making this house. I cannot leave  y family and return to my job in Qatar,” he said.

Another moving thing to see was the children running around in the village, because the school  building has collapsed and I asked one of the children – Why don’t you go back to school? And he replied “I will go back to school, when the earthquake stops”.

There have been over 100 aftershocks, following the April 25 quake. The tremors are coming everyday. Today there was a tremor, yesterday there was a tremor. For the locals the earthquake has not stopped.  

The road ahead

Oxfam is in Nepal for the long haul. And it will take a lot of time and effort to get Nepal back on its feet. The United Nations has made an estimate of $500million, which is required to help the Himalayan nation.

Nepal Earthquake Response

Currently people in Gorkha district are living in these temporary tents

People in Nepal have no saving left, their whole life savings have been wiped out. There are no schools, no infrastructure and it’s very hard to imagine a scene like this.

We need to help rebuild Nepal together.

 

Written by Nisha Agrawal, CEO, Oxfam India

Photo credits: Nisha Agrawal, CEO, Oxfam India

 

 

 

 


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