People in Need and partners supporting landslide survivors in Nepal

People in Need and partners supporting landslide survivors in Nepal

Nov 13, 2020

In the mountainous regions of Nepal, this year’s monsoon season has triggered 44 recorded landslides in areas that are still trying to rebuild from the devastating earthquake of 2015. So far in 2020, 64 people have been killed and more than 1,700 families have been displaced in the Sindhupalchowk, Dhading, and Gorkha districts – all while coping with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Unfortunately, Nepal has not succeeded in effectively mitigating landslide risks, with haphazard road-construction and climate change making the situation worse. In addition to death toll, the landslides have also caused severe damage to property, devastated livestock, and wiped out arable farmlands.

Krishna Bahadur Newar found his home in Barhabise, Sindhupalchowk swept away by a recent landslide: "It's really difficult for me to think about the incident; the loss that I suffered is unfathomable,” Newar says “The sudden landslide not only took away my home and property but also my wife, leaving me and my injured son all alone. I was frightened and furious at the same time for losing everything."

In response to the landslides and with humanitarian funding from the European Union, People in Need (PIN) along with its local implementing partner, Phase Nepal, launched the “Landslide Emergency Response Project.” The project team was amongst the first to respond to the recent landslides, deploying immediately after they occurred to carry out an identification and mapping exercise in close collaboration with local officials. The aim was to assist the most affected people with their immediate needs.

Immediate support for vulnerable families

After the landslides destroyed crops and arable land, damaged livelihoods, and swept away homes and possessions, the survivors were left in urgent need of dignified support, including emergency housing and basic aid. People in Need, together with our partners, immediately distributed emergency shelter, non-food items, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)/dignity kits to vulnerable households affected by landslides across three districts, focusing on people with disabilities, pregnant and lactating women, the elderly, and female-headed households.

During the pandemic, we dispatched our team to the affected districts with an eye toward the COVID-19 situation. The needs of the people we met ranged from shelter and enough clean and warm clothing, to essential provisions for new-born babies. Consultations with locals indicated that they feared further torrential rains amidst the COVID-19 crisis. One hundred households were identified as internally displaced, and were prioritised for emergency assistance with temporary shelter kits, consisting of basic materials such as corrugated galvanised iron (CGI) sheets, plain sheeting, and tarpaulins.

Pregnant and lactating women received WASH/dignity kits to help them maintain their basic hygiene, as well as to safeguard the health of their children. In total, 116 households with pregnant and lactating women received kits with essential items such as soap, dental items, towels, baby clothing, diapers, and undergarments. The kits also included COVID-19 prevention provisions such as hand sanitiser and face coverings. An additional 156 non-food items kits – including basic winterisation items such as blankets, sleeping mats, kitchen sets, and solar-powered flashlights – were distributed to the most vulnerable households.

Dan McNamara, Head of Programmes for PIN Nepal, explains the urgency of the situation: "Five years on from the devastating earthquake, landslides continue to hit the most vulnerable. Unable to return home, families without safe shelter and secure livelihoods are left behind to pick up the pieces. Emergency shelter and WASH provisions allow families to get back on their feet at a time of immense uncertainty, exacerbated by the current COVID-19 pandemic. PIN and the EU Humanitarian Aid's support is just the start, with much more needed if landslide survivors are to secure a dignified and meaningful recovery."

Hope amidst crisis

Bimala Century, 27, is six months pregnant and lives with her three children in a village in Dhading, while her husband works as a labourer in Butwal City, more than 140 kilometres away. Her house was completely destroyed by the landslide. “After the house was damaged, I moved to my maternal home in another village for immediate housing,” she says. “I am a poor Dalit woman raising three children with the money my husband earns working as labourer. Although many people received relief items [as part of the initial government support], I was not on the list for assistance since I wasn’t present and no one informed me. I am very happy that I was included in the distribution programme led by PIN. Thanks to PIN and the ward office, I was able to repair my house with the shelter materials I received, and celebrate Dashain in my own home.”

PIN, in partnership with the European Union, continues to support vulnerable communities affected by landslides in the Sindhupalchowk, Dhading, and Gorkha districts with COVID-19 WASH interventions, including the installation of gender-segregated community latrines and water stations to provide access to clean and safe facilities and drinking water, together with a catalogue of complementary hygiene promotion activities.

For more information, please contact:

Jakub Smutny, PIN Nepal Country Director, +420 724 587 888 jakub.smutny@peopleinneed.cz

Jampa Tsering Lama, PIN Nepal Emergency Coordinator, +977 9851174237, jampa.lama@peopleinneed.cz

Author: People in Need