NEPAL EARTHQUAKE – WHERE TO FROM HERE?

The devastating earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25 this year was one of the most significant emergencies in Adara’s history. Our local Nepali team responded immediately and courageously, and in the first two months managed to reach thousands of people with emergency medical care, shelter, food, psychosocial support and other critical assistance. Hundreds of people from across the globe rallied behind them, helping Adara raise an incredible US$569,775 to help Nepal recover and rebuild.

Adara's Global Leadership TeamIn July, the Adara Global Leadership team gathered for a week to plan and develop a strategy for re-building after the earthquake. A five pronged strategy emerged from the week, which will focus on the needs of all our major stakeholders in Nepal, including the Adara Kids, our staff, our partner organisations, the Kathmandu community, and the Humla community.

In this blog, the Global Leadership Team delve deeper into our plans to support the Kathmandu community through the work we will do to support the Village Development Committee (VDC), Ghangfedi.

BY ADARA GLOBAL LEADERSHIP TEAM

The months after the earthquake passed in a blur of action and emergency assistance. By the time we came together to plan a longer term strategy, the monsoon season was in full swing and much of the rebuilding and recovery work had been put on hold until it was safe to deliver services without risk of landslide. This break provided the opportunity to map our earthquake response strategy.

Despite months of extraordinary hard work, and almost nightly interruptions from the tremors that still rock Kathmandu, forcing him to spring out of bed each night, Pralhad was positive about the way ahead and was proud of the work that Adara has done.

SUPPORT FOR ONE VILLAGE DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE – GHANGFEDI

After several days of discussion, we decided that we will continue to focus our work in Ghangfedi, VDC we have already been working in, A VDC is a local government municipality, and the VDC of Ghangfedi is home to 760 households in 9 separate hamlets. The Nepal government has asked INGOs to focus attention on one VDC, rather than providing piecemeal support across many different VDCs.

GhangfediOver the past 17 years, Adara has built expertise in delivering health and education services in the mountainous terrain of Humla, which will lend itself well to the landscape of Ghangfedi. We want to make sure our work is assisting the poorest and most marginalized and those who can’t access resources easily. The people of Ghangfedi definitely fit that bill. Located more than 100km away from Kathmandu, Ghangfedi is a very disadvantaged community, with literacy rates below 20% – even lower than in remote Humla. What’s more, 100% of Ghangfedi’s homes, schools, health posts and other structures were destroyed by the earthquakes, so there is huge need from every sector of the community for support. Also, as our colleague Pasang shared in this blog, the area is also the epicenter of the human trafficking trade in Nepal, with very few girls over 10 years old left in the VDC. With our experience working with children at risk, Adara would like to do our part to slow and eventually end the trafficking trade in Ghangfedi.

EDUCATION, HEALTH AND THE ELIMINATION OF CHILD TRAFFICKING

One of Adara’s very first programmes that we started way back in 1998 with the Himalayan Children Society, was the building and development of a local school in Humla – the Yalbang School. Fast forward to today and the Yalbang School is now a model school for more than 300 students in the region. It is a residential school, which makes it easier for children who live many kilometers away to attend school, as they do not have to travel long distances each day but can stay at one of the school hostels – one for boys and one for girls. The school is also a focal point for the entire community, and includes a health post, a veggie garden to train villagers and students on nutrition, and serves as a place to train the community on good sanitation.

Our plan for Ghangfedi is to take the knowledge and experience from 17 years of developing the Yalbang School to build a similar residential school in Ghangfedi. By providing good quality education for the community, we hope to not only increase the literacy rate, but also to provide opportunities for young girls so their parents do not feel the need to send them away or sell them to traffickers. Pralhad’s dream is to see the first female police inspector, lawyer, journalist, and civil servant graduate from the school.

In the past week, more than 20 influential people from Ghangfedi came to the Nepal Adara office to discuss re-building plans. They loved the idea of a Yalbang-type school, and firmly believe education will help Ghangfedi rebuild and get back on its feet. The villagers showed such enthusiasm that the very next day, Ghangfedi’s school principal along with 6 or 7 other senior people from the community joined the Adara team to share this idea with the government District Education Office (DEO). The DEO were very positive and love the idea of a residential school. They have 8 teachers in the Ghangfedi VDC which they will provide to the new school, and will also look to redirect their financial support from the separate primary schools in the area that were destroyed in the earthquake to fund early-childhood centres in each hamlet, which would be feeder pre-schools to the one residential primary and secondary school which Adara will build in conjunction with the DEO and other local NGOs.

Once the rain has slowed down towards the end of August, our Nepali team will go with an engineer and assess the land to make decisions about where the school will be located. We are of course currently looking into earthquake-resistant technology to establish what the best structure would be.

SHELTER

Tin in Ghangfedi Pralhad was very proud that thanks to the support from our donors, Adara was able to provide every single family in the Ghangfedi VDC with tin for shelter to protect against the monsoon. In particular, while we provided the villagers with advice, materials and support, Adara did not step in to do the actual rebuild. We do not want the people of Ghangfedi to become passive in their own development, and want to ensure they are involved in all decisions about their futures.

Our next step is to provide all villagers in the Ghangfedi VDC with enough tin to build a permanent home. The tin we provided in the emergency phase was only enough for a temporary shelter to see them through the monsoons. As they rebuild, we will provide advice to the householders on safety and how they can make their structures more earthquake-resistant.

COLLABORATION AT THE HEART OF OUR WORK

As our plans continue to develop, we will work in collaboration with the government, making sure we use proper building codes in any structural rebuilding we undertake. Our team has been impressed by the government’s response, and the government have already committed half a million dollars to fix the road from Kathmandu to Ghangfedi.

We also want to work in collaboration with other local non-profits, and our team is currently reaching out to potential partners to work with us to help Ghangfedi get back on its feet.

As our plans progress, we will keep you, our wonderful supporters informed.

* Since the earthquakes, Ghangfedi has been left very open to the elements and to potential landslides. The government is concerned that a landslide could cause utter devastation for the already ravaged community. They are therefore currently considering moving the entire 760 households to a safer area. Our final decision about whether we will be working in Ghangfedi will depend on whether and where the community is moved to. Adara have built up expertise in education and health provision in the mountainous terrain of the Himalayas. We are not familiar with the Terai and the flat lands. So the location of the community will be important in helping us finalise our plans for assisting with community re-build. However, the peoples in Ghangfedi are not well disposed to moving and giving up their land, so at this point; it is our intention to work with Ghangfedi.

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