Nepal Emergency Blog V
Humanitarian responses from across the world are in full flow in Nepal, but together we have a tough and long journey ahead of us.
Relief is being offered from around 16 countries and more than 10,600 tonnes of rice, sugar, salt, beans and lentils have already been provided to affected communities. Islamic Relief has been part of this worldwide response to the Nepal earthquake.
Typically, our emergency response period will last for 90 days. During this time, organisations coordinate to provide life-saving assistance, such as food, shelter and non-food items like hygiene kits. The duration of this response is flexible and depends on the needs, infrastructure and situation of the country. In Haiti, for example, Islamic Relief’s humanitarian response stretched over two years.
During my time in Nepal, we travelled to the villages of Madanpur and Kumari. The distance was a short 80km (50 miles) but it took six hours for us to reach them on very dangerous narrow roads damaged by the earthquake, unsuitable for driving, with huge rocks and landslides and broken homes stretching across the roads.
Negotiating a tricky path
At all sections of the journey, we negotiated. We negotiated with the narrow roads, with the oncoming traffic, with locals who were angry that we were driving past them rather than to them. This was a difficult situation. At one point, we were met by a line of people forming a human barrier. They wanted a share of some of our aid, but it was already committed to a place further away where the need was greater. As part of the coordination with the government and other agencies, we visited each site, assessed the need, and informed authorities that those locations were on our priority list. It is a process designed to avoid wastage and duplication, and it means we have to ensure our aid goes to those locations.
Half way there, we came across a bus that had been trapped by a huge rock. We could not tell what had happened to the people who were on the bus. Inside were pieces of cloth, slippers, trainers, dried blood on seats, personal belongings.
After six hours we arrived in the village. There, men and women, young and old, were waiting for us under a huge tree beside the local primary school, which was also damaged. Etched on their faces were worry and shock, but this turned to relief when they saw we had brought food with us. This was just one village. Many villages need help. And more will be needed now a second strong earthquake has shaken the country.
There remains plenty for us to do as we continue our emergency response. After emergency response comes early recovery when we will build transitional shelters using locally-available materials such as galvanised sheeting. We will set up food voucher schemes rather than delivering food to villages. We will also carry out rubble clearance with local people. In this way, we will work together to make everybody’s journey to a rebuilt Nepal a little smoother.