Nepal can be divided into two primary groups of people in need, those living in the Kathmandu Valley and those living in the remote mountainous regions that are inaccessible by any means other than by foot or helicopter.
At this point there is no immediate food crisis, spread of disease or health crisis other than injuries sustained from the earthquake.
However, hundreds of thousands in Kathmandu are still living outside in the fields since the aftershocks have continued making it dangerous to be inside of their homes. This includes Bishnu Adhikari and his family. They only enter their house on a limited basis to use the bathrooms and gather supplies.
It has been raining all day which is starting to complicate the situation since people are getting cold and wet and yet not able to seek shelter indoors for fear of more aftershocks and the potential of more collapsing buildings. More rain is coming which will worsen the situation as people try to stay warm and dry. With so many people living outside their homes and not having access to toilets, there is risk of a Cholera outbreak.
To further complicate the situation, all three of the major roads into the Kathmandu Valley (from India, China and Western Nepal) are blocked due to landslides and destroyed bridges. So far, there has been enough food in the valley to sustain the population. They calculate that the food will hold out for another 2-3 days. If roads are not opened by then, The Valley will quickly spiral into a crisis. Food, water filtration, blankets, tents and other basic supplies will need to be airlifted into the valley.
The good news is that they expect to have the road from China opened by tomorrow and possibly one of the other major roads. This will avert the pending crisis for food and supplies.
The other good news is that the last after-shock was over 12 hours ago. If the after-shocks have stopped, people tend to return home meaning they will start using their toilet facilities and start repairing any structural damage that may have happened to their homes. This will again, avert the potential spread of disease.
The situation in the rural areas has other complications. Tens of thousands have been displaced from their homes due to the earthquake, aftershocks and land slides. Most of these areas are only accessible by foot or helicopter. They are currently focused on getting those who are injured in to proper medical attention.
Getting them food, temporary shelter or medical help can only realistically be done by helicopter. For this reason, coordinating with the military is the only viable way to help. At some point soon, they will run out of existing supplies to airlift and will begin to rely on the support of the international community. China is already sending back-up air-lifting resources.
The International community is all committed and working together. As I mentioned, China sending airlifting support, supplies and helping to open the road. India, EU and US are all coordinating efforts with the Nepalese government. We plan to coordinate with Red Cross and the LDS Church on any physical supplies that may be sent there for support.
Government is still not sure how to handle the crisis as the needs and difficulties change by the hour and by the day. Rain, after-shocks, road blocks and sanitation are all issues they are attending to right now.
Govind (National Planning Commissioner Vice Chair) and others are working on the long-term transition plan of the hundreds of thousands of families who have been displaced from their homes to return and rebuild.
What we can do:
In the moment we do not yet know where the greatest needs will be. It will depend greatly on the following variables:
1. Roadways opening, allowing supplies into the KTM valley
2. Aftershocks stopping, allowing families to safely return to their homes and have access to sanitation facilities
3. Rain stopping, allowing locals to stay warm and dry
We believe (hope) that much of the potential acute crisis will be handled by local resources. If this is the case then the real work of rebuilding begins…which is, according to Bishnu, where we can be of most help. As we know, the implementation capacity of the country is low, which is why we have seen such strong results in the work we have been doing with the Nepal Life program.
Organizing and mobilizing communities, it turns out, will be the greatest need for the country in the coming weeks, months and years. So much of the country has been reduced to rubble. Whether it is getting urgently needed supplies to the right people and places or it is a strategic plan for rebuild, it is all going to needs organized communities and strong leadership.
If roads do not open within the next couple of days there will be an acute need for food, clean water, tents, sanitation facilities and basic supplies. We will keep you posted on how that progresses.
Please take inventory of your resources (financial capabilities, food, clothing, tents, appropriate equipment) and be ready to respond if needed.
Previous update from April 25th.