Today marks the seventh anniversary of the 2015 Nepal earthquake, which massively destroyed lives and livelihoods – killed more than 9,000 people, injured over 22,000 people, displaced over100,000 people, destroyed and damaged over 800,000 private homes, and damaged around 1,500 cultural sites. Moreover, it affected schools, health facilities, roads, drinking water systems, irrigation facilities, and other public infrastructure in the affected areas. Due to displacement, there were increased protection risks to women and children. Had it not been a Saturday mid-day, thousands of students would have been injured and hundreds of thousands would have been inside their homes.
Under the reconstruction drive, the majority of the private houses, schools, and health facilities have been built. In collaboration with the local communities and the local governments, Helvetas Nepal provided emergency food and non-food assistance, shelter reconstruction, and rehabilitated drinking water, irrigation systems, and watermills in Melamchi and Helambu. Helvetas Nepal also provided skills as long-term opportunities for people with appropriate masonry, carpentry, and plumbing skills for the safe building of houses, school buildings, hospitals, and roads. Helvetas Nepal acknowledges the support provided by Swiss Solidarity, Solidar Swiss, SDC, and UKAid.
There is a vicious cycle of poverty and vulnerability in Nepal. People in poverty are more vulnerable to disaster as they live and work in areas exposed to potential hazards. And they have fewer resources to cope with, resist or recover when a disaster strikes. The earthquake has exposed many of the vulnerabilities within and beyond our system and society. Women, children, senior citizens, and people with disability are most vulnerable and most affected by disaster, and they need to be prioritized.
Much-awaited legislation on Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) has been endorsed replacing the Natural Calamity Relief Act of 1982. It has covered the broader spectrum of diversity of disaster and disaster cycle management – preparedness, response, recovery, and mitigation. The Act has promoted proactive DRR towards resilience building with significant roles of the local government, supported by the provincial and federal governments. Not to forget that the local community members, particularly the youth - 40% of the population, are the first responder to any humanitarian crisis. They must be consulted in all aspects of DRR and disaster management by the agencies before, during, and after the disaster – a lesson for all!