May 25, 2015

Sherpas help Oxfam deliver 2.5 tonnes of aid to remote Nepal villages


New Delhi, May 25, 2015: One month on since the first earthquake hit Nepal, Oxfam has reached out to more than 1.50 lakh people in seven of the worst hit districts of Nepal with emergency supplies. With looming rains, Oxfam is now working with the celebrated Sherpas of Nepal to deliver lifesaving aid to the most remote mountain villages made inaccessible after the earthquake.

“On Sunday 17th May, the first team of 100 porters and mountain guides trekked for over four hours from devastated Barpak, the epicentre of the first earthquake. They carried tarpaulins and hygiene kits - almost 2.5 tonnes of aid materials - to the displaced people of Laprak, a hamlet 2700m above sea level in Gorkha district,” said Zubin Zaman, deputy director, humanitarian and disaster relief reduction of Oxfam in India.

Oxfam is now planning similar activities to reach other isolated communities as soon as possible. “With the approaching monsoons the spread of diseases are a big threat and speed in delivery of sanitation and shelter is vital. Engaging porters is an effective way to deliver aid in difficult to reach places and it also provides work for those who are now jobless after the disaster,” said Zaman.

Gorkha district is one of the worst hit by the earthquake where up to 90% of the homes have been destroyed and communities have been cut off by landslides. A team from India is working in Gorkha and Sindhupalchok districts distributing hygiene kits, community water filters, shelter kits, and have built more than 30 latrines.

Oxfam teams are trucking clean water to over 30000 people in Kathmandu valley and tarpaulin for temporary shelter for over 50000 people across Sindhupalchok, Kathmandu, Nuwakot, Dhading, Gorkha, Bhaktapur, and Lalitpur. They intend to reach out to 4 lakh people in the first phase of relief work in the next 12 months.

Drawing attention to the vital task of rehabilitation Zaman said, “We are distributing rice seeds to farmers who need to plant a new crop before the rains start. If we don’t act quickly, they risk losing next year’s crop too and becoming dependent on aid”. In Sindhupalchok, the Oxfam team has distributed animal feed to more than 100 households, to enable households to start earning afresh and be able to link to an existing dairy supply chain.

While things are beginning to look up, there are still many urgent issues that need to be attended to. Water pipelines have been damaged and there is a serious concern over the quality of water available. Toilets have been damaged leading to people defecating in the open, which further heightens the risk of water borne diseases.

“People are still mentally and physically exhausted and they have lost their entire life savings. It is distressing to see women and children out in the open, vulnerable to disease, malnourishment, trafficking and abuse. An entire school year is probably lost. We have so far reached only a miniscule of the affected population. The enormity of the situation requires massive efforts speedily,” said Nisha Agrawal, CEO of Oxfam in India.

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