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Nepal – 6 months on

Six months have passed since a 7.8 earthquake struck Nepal on 25 April 2015, with the epicentre about 80 kilometres north west of the capital, Kathmandu. This was followed by another magnitude-7.4 earthquake to the north east near Mount Everest on 12 May.

According to the government of Nepal, more than 8,800 people were killed. The effect on housing was devastating, as with more than 800,000 homes destroyed and damaged.

In the subsequent months since the earthquakes, the recovery process in Nepal has moved on from the emergency phase, and recovery and reconstruction has begun. Despite challenges caused by political upheaval, fuel shortages and difficulties navigating the mountainous terrain, we have been able to undertake disaster recovery efforts to help families rebuild their homes and lives.

Our donors’ strong support and contributions have been instrumental in ensuring the completion of the emergency phase, which included distributing 5,065 temporary shelter kits, 20,000 water backpacks, and removing 650 tonnes of earthquake rubble. Surveyors have conducted safety assessments for 16,244 damaged houses, to help families determine if their homes are still safe for habitation, to facilitate demolishing of unsafe homes, and to provide technical support to those able to repair or retrofit their homes.

In early July, Habitat for Humanity held a ground breaking ceremony for the first permanent houses to be built in Kavre district. The first model house has been completed and safety assessments, demolitions of unsafe homes and site development through construction of roads were also conducted.

Recovery efforts such as these, have helped affected families, like Ram’s rebuild their lives and return to normalcy after the devastation of the earthquakes.

Ram’s story
Ram hurried home from work on the 25th April, after the initial earthquake had passed to check on his family. “I saw that my house was still standing,” said Ram, “But after a few seconds, the top floor collapsed.” Thankfully, his wife Apsara, 25, and two sons, Rahul, 8, and Rukesh, 5, were safe.

Ram, a 33-year-old farmer and construction laborer, found out later that only one out of the 93 houses in his village survived the disaster with minor damage. The remaining houses were either destroyed or badly damaged by the magnitude-7.8 earthquake.

Like the nearly 390 community memebers, Ram and his family were homeless. “We were sleeping under a tarp, with other families for a month,” he said. “Rainfall was a problem, as was the wind. We didn’t have enough tarps, so sometimes we slept outside when the skies were clear.”

In early May, a Habitat for Humanity team arrived in Ram’s village to assess the shelter needs of affected families. By the end of the month, distributions had begun by Habitat staff and volunteers to eventually bring 92 temporary shelter kits to the area. Each of the affected families, including Ram’s, received the kits that contained materials such as corrugated iron sheeting for roofing, wiring, and steel.

These materials could later be reused to repair homes or to support permanent home construction. Some families like Ram’s salvaged bricks from the rubble of their collapsed houses for use in their new temporary shelters.

In addition to distributing the temporary shelter kits, Habitat for Humanity also built demonstration temporary shelters to pass on building techniques to local communities.

“I learned the techniques from Habitat for Humanity when they were here, and then I built my own shelter, with the help of my neighbors,” Ram continued. “We were happy to receive the temporary shelter kit. Now we no longer have to live under a tarp. This shelter protects us from rain, storms and wind.”

While the temporary shelters are an improvement over the tarps that families used to live in, they still wish to rebuild. Ram shares their sentiment and hopes to rebuild his home with the help of Habitat for Humanity. In preparation, Ram and his fellow villagers started clearing rubble from the affected areas.


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