Photo ~ Catherine Mahony / Oxfam
Nepal Recovery Fund Drive – An Update
During the month of May, Whole Earth customers generously donated over $17,700 to our Nepal Recovery Fund Drive. The money was given to Oxfam America and was one of the largest single donations that the group received for Nepal Relief. They recently sent us an update on their work in Nepal.
In the immediate aftermath of the earthquakes, Oxfam America’s first priority was getting basic, life-saving supplies to individuals and communities in need. And though the humanitarian situation has improved in Nepal, the provision of shelter, food, livelihood, water and sanitation remains paramount. The cold and damp monsoon weather left survivors even more vulnerable and made reaching those in remote areas a continuing challenge. With the approach of winter, the delivery of winterization kits to those living in the mountains is a key concern.
As Oxfam America transitions to the recovery phase, they are working in four key program areas: Shelter; Food and Livelihood; Gender; and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).
Surveys show that more than 600,000 houses were totally destroyed, and a further 290,000 were damaged in the earthquakes. Emergency shelter kits of tarpaulins and ropes and improved temporary shelter kits including corrugated galvanized iron sheets, roofing accessories and toolkits, were distributed. Oxfam partners provided training to carpenters, masons and local women to construct improved temporary shelters. Shelter awareness sessions also increased community knowledge of safe construction techniques.
Their priority was to provide a roof over families in need before the rainy season. Moving towards more permanent shelters and focusing on the approaching winter, Oxfam America is providing items to insulate shelters such as thermal floor mats and groundsheets, blankets, mattresses and hot water bottles, as well as sheeting to help waterproof shelters. Shelter for livestock and household granaries are also planned where needed.
Food and Livelihood
Oxfam America has been helping people recover their livelihoods by jump starting economic activities for individuals and communities. During the emergency phase of the response, there were distributions of staple food supplies, along with rice seeds and agricultural tools for farmers whose own supplies were lost or damaged in the earthquake. Cash for work programs also aided in debris clearance.
In the recovery phase, there will be more cash-based programs for livelihood recovery. These programs will focus in areas such as: trader grants to provide capital and training for people who want to restart or rehabilitate existing businesses (which in turn will also help to restart employment opportunities for wage-earners); the reconstruction and maintenance of community infrastructure; and support for market and financial systems.
Women, the elderly, people living with disabilities and female headed households are likely to find rebuilding their houses more challenging. In response, Oxfam America has been studying how their work affects vulnerable women and men, ensuring that they are not put at further risk, and have equal access to facilities and goods.
For women who have been displaced or otherwise affected by the earthquake, the organization has provided items and amenities aimed at ensuring their security and dignity, such as gender friendly hygiene kits, separate toilets for women, safe bathing spaces, and awareness raising activities to help women get relevant legal documents. In particular, these activities have been aimed at supporting single and elderly women, women with disabilities, pregnant women, and those at risk of domestic or gender based violence.
In the recovery phase, there is a focus on providing women with targeted support through counseling and referral services, reactivating and strengthening existing women’s groups, and empowering women through life skills training and activities to strengthen their ability to provide for themselves and their families.
Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH)
The earthquakes significantly reduced access to sanitation facilities and compromised access to safe, clean water. In order to reduce the risks of WASH-related diseases, and promote better community health, Oxfam America has been repairing and rehabilitating water sources and restoring access to potable water in hard-to-reach areas. Latrines have been constructed or repaired, and hygiene kits containing essential items have been distributed.
During the first phase of the emergency response, Oxfam teams sought to reach the most vulnerable and remote communities. They were able to set up strategic bases in areas that would be inaccessible during the monsoon season with local teams and contingency stocks. They are now working towards sustainable water and sanitation provision, including water rehabilitation in schools, and major repair and rehabilitation of damaged water supplies in the hill districts.
Again, we thank you for your generous support for the people of Nepal as they recover from the devastating earthquakes and rebuild their country.