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It is more than a month since the initial earthquake and the urgent need for substantial shelter that will withstand the monsoon wind and rain is increasing. There are still more than 500,000 Nepalese living without a roof over their heads. The BReaD Network (Baptist Relief and Development Network) found that it would take around US$6,000,000 in order to replace all the houses that have been destroyed in two small areas of the Dhading district alone. It has been hard to source enough tarpaulins for temporary shelter for people affected by the initial 7.8 earthquake on April 25. It is also expected that to obtain enough corrugated galvanised iron sheets, necessary for the construction of more substantial monsoon appropriate shelter, will be equally difficult. Shelters made out of corrugated iron can provide room for 5 family members, allow windows, ventilation and provide a liveable space that is expected to last at least 2 years. Shelters such as this survived a heavy storm in the Kathmandu Valley on May 23 and are considered a top priority for thousands of homeless to survive the monsoon season.
The monsoon rains are expected in June, and alongside worries surrounding the lack of shelter, monsoon rains will hamper relief and recovery efforts and possibly cause landslides in areas with already destabilised land. Continuing aftershocks are having an extended impact on the psychological wellbeing of people and levels of suicide and trauma are increasing.
The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been proposed as a replacement for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which expire at the end of this year. Poverty eradication is still the greatest global challenge facing the world today, and the SDGs will help governments and NGOs to keep their focus aligned in the right direction.
The MDGs are 8 international development goals which were adopted in 2000. They set an expectation, agreed to by member countries of the United Nations to meet the needs of the worlds poorest but they have been met with varying levels of success. For example, the proportion of people living on less than $1.25 a day has halved. However, the net enrolment rate for primary education has only increased from 88% to 90% since 1990, still falling short of the MDGs target of 100%. Under-fiver mortality rates have also dropped from 99 per 1000 live births in 1990 to 53 in 2012, but not as far as set by the MDGs. Emissions of CO2 have continued to grow despite MDG 8 calling for all countries to ensure environmental sustainability. Despite their varied success, the MDGs have been a good focal point upon which NGOs and governments can base their policies and overseas aid programmes. They also provide a commitment to ending poverty and improving lives that NGOs can hold governments accountable to.
On Saturday April 25 just before midday an earthquake measuring 7.8 centred near Kathmandu approximately 15km below the surface shook Nepal and was felt throughout the region. In the days since this initial quake aftershocks have continue with at least 64 recorded in the following 4 days. More than 4000 people have lost their lives, and this number is expected to rise. Well over 8000 are known to be injured and as rescue and recovery efforts continue the UN are predicting that upwards of 8 million could be affected.
Much of the city of Kathmandu has been destroyed and the full extent of damage in the villages is yet to be established. Nepal is the heart of the Himalayas, and normally difficult access to more remote regions has only been made more challenging with disrupted communication and transportation systems.
Survivors are camping on the edges of Kathmandu city and initial aid and relief response is in action with some organisations distributing prepositioned supplies. Relief agencies are working together with Nepalese government and those with expertise in disaster relief have trained personnel on standby ready to act once needs have been assessed. A number of aid organisations have local teams in country coordinating efforts. Local churches are seeking to coordinate how they can best respond to this crisis. Read more about the response of churches here.