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3 May

International coverage of responses to crises tends to focus on the major international aid organisations and the United Nations, but actually local responders are often more important. Nepal has many established local NGOs that have been doing incredible work

Juliette Rousselot has been meeting some of them for a photo feature.

"When the hundred or so residents of Dalchowki village in southcentral Nepal first received assistance, it did not come from the government, the United Nations or one of the many large international NGOs now pouring into the country following the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit one week ago. It came from a small, spontaneously-born network of local volunteers who are often the first on the scene."



A new face

IRIN reporter Naresh Newar traveled today to the remote village of Ghumarchowk, 8km from the capital Kathmandu - a three-hour drive up a rocky, steep and dangerous mountain road. There, he met Nirmala Tamang, 20, her husband Surendra, 28, and their two-year-old baby. Already among the poorest residents of the village, they lost everything in the earthquake: their home, their livestock and their food stocks. Still, while living in this small, makeshift open hut, they had a good laugh with Naresh, the first outsider to visit their village since the quake hit. 


How do you make sure your 35-tonne, 54-bed inflatable hospital makes it from Kathmandu airport to Gorkha district, near the epicentre of the earthquake. It's all a question of logistics. In this article, IRIN's editor-at-large Obinna Anyadike takes us inside Nepal's Humanitarian Staging Area, a vital hinge in the international relief effort.

Olivier Brandner, left, loads supplies into MSF's mobile storage unit

Olivier Brandner, left, loads supplies into MSF's mobile storage unit


“UNDAC and OSOCC are on ground while UNRC may be upped to HC. Needs include NFI, AAP, WASH and CIMIC, and pledges are updated in FTS. It can’t be long before an IA RTE and some kind of MIRA-style NA is underway, even while INSARAG guides USAR / ISAR / FMT teams and their K9s.”

If this leaves you none the wiser, here's IRIN's explainer on the acronyms aid agencies and others use, all too often, during disasters.



The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has warned that there is a critical window of opportunity to help Nepalese farmers before the imminent rice growing season.

"Farmers who miss the planting season that is expected to start late May onwards will be unable to harvest rice – the country’s staple food -- again until late 2016. This, together with likely losses of food stocks and wheat and maize harvests, would severely limit food supplies and incomes in the South Asian country, where around two-thirds of people rely on agriculture for their livelihood," the FAO said.

The UN agency is calling for $8 million in urgent aid to help farmers get back on their feet and warns that the destruction of markets and infrastructure, including roads and crucial drainage systems, will strangle internal trade.

IRIN examined the roots of Nepal's rural poverty in this report last year from the remote eastern community of Cheskam.

Rita Rai sits on the debris of her home in the remote village of Banghar

Rita Rai sits on the debris of her home in the remote village of Banghar



Nearly a week after the earthquake, the Asian Development Bank has released its first assessment of the impact on the Nepali economy.
The top line is a small lowering of growth estimates for 2015 – from 4.6 percent to 4.2 percent. However, if the situation continues to deteriorate it could fall as low as 3 percent.

Other key points:

- Inflation expected to rise from 7.7 percent to 8 percent, but fall again in 2016
- Nepal can afford to run a small deficit to finance reconstruction projects
- Remittances from Nepalis living elsewhere in the world, which make up about 25 percent of the country’s economy, are expected to grow in the coming days



The view outside kathmandu 

Outside the capital, many mountainous roads have been blocked by landslides and avalanches, leaving the relief effort heavily reliant on helicopters.  But bad weather is restricting their ability to fly, severely hampering the delivery of aid to remote villages. In this photo feature, IRIN visits Bhaktapur, a UNESCO world heritage site about 12 kilometers outside Kathmandu, and the smaller communities of Harisiddhi and Bungamati. 


  • An estimated 61 international urban search-and-rescue teams (known as USARs) are now on the ground. 
  • All urban search-and-rescue teams who have not yet arrived in Nepal have been asked to 'stand down', i.e: not fly in. The urban search-and-rescue response in Nepal has now shifted to body recovery. Teams not prepared for body recovery have been advised to prepare their departure plans.
  • Reports continue to emerge of children and survivors rescued five days after the earthquake.
  • Nearly 5,000 schools were destroyed in the earthquake, according to a Save the Children estimate. In Gorkha alone, 90 percent of the district’s 500 schools have been destroyed or badly damaged, affecting 75,000 school children, the charity said in a statement.
  • Here's an updated version of the Nepal earthquake severity index, a matrix measuring the intensity of the earthquake, the number of people exposed to it, and the vulnerability of people and shelters in each district. It is produced by the European Commission Joint Research Centre and the UN's humanitarian coordination body, OCHA.

are CHOLERA FEARS valid?

As thousands of people sleep in camps, often in poor sanitary conditions, fears of outbreaks of water-borne diseases such as cholera have grown. The disease is far from a new phenomena in the country. As the chart below shows, cholera is endemic in Nepal. 

LOCAL EFFORTS: crisis mapping

With the global media fixating on the international relief effort, it is easy to neglect the efforts of local Nepalese groups like Kathmandu Living Labs, who are using their tech-savvy community to good effect.

Click this link for an interactive map they have created, after verifying and adding reports of earthquake damage from across the country:

Aid agencies pour into Nepal – and then what?

In the immediate aftermath of a disaster of the scale of Nepal’s 7.8-magnitude earthquake, the scramble by aid agencies to respond can easily descend into chaos, explains IRIN's Kristy Siegfried. Have aid agencies learned from the mistakes of the past? In particular from Haiti, where the influx of hundreds of aid agencies and civil society organisations – many with no prior knowledge of the country – proved impossible to fully coordinate and in some cases was actually detrimental to the response

In this new report, IRIN asks how many aid agencies is too many, and how can we best coordinate their response to ensure that they are more of a help than a hindrance to the emergency response. 


"Grief too overwhelming"

IRIN's reporter Naresh Newar has just returned from a day trying to reach those in need outside of the capital. He described the level of desperation many are in.

"The road was very rough and the trip was longer than I expected... I couldn't leave the families too soon as their grief was overwhelming and mixed with gratitude because nobody had visited them. They were relieved to see us and wanted us to hang around.

"It was an emotional experience - no journalist, relief worker or government official had [gone there] to meet them.

"One kid was crushed [to death] and most had only narrowly managed to escape death.  The children were telling us their stories of their escapes. All the houses were destroyed and they are very poor."


The importance of communication

In this new article, Imogen Wall explains how Nepal is proving yet again how important communication is to disaster survivors. The need to communicate - and the idea that information is a form of assistance in its own right - is increasingly acknowledged as an urgent but under-supported aspect of disaster response. Here's a snippet:

Kunda Dixit, editor of the respected weekly Nepali Times, wasn’t at work on the afternoon of 25 April. It being a Saturday, he and some colleagues were enjoying a day away from work, hiking in the mountains that surround Kathmandu.

They were just descending a ridge when the ground began to shake. They watched in horror as clouds of dust rose from the city. “We hugged each other, some of us crying,” he says. Then, “we reached for our phones."



The UN has just made an initial appeal for $415 million in immediate humanitarian funding in Nepal.

Key findings from the appeal:

  • The Nepalese government is leading the response through the the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) with support from the United Nations and international community.
  • The $415 million is just for the next three months of operations in Nepal.
  • Food ($128 million), health ($75 million) and shelter ($50 million) make up the majority of the spending.
  • The main aims are to combat outbreaks of communicable diseases, to ensure the food needs are met and to build basic shelters.

This $415 million is to address immediate need and does not appear to include much money for rebuilding.


There has been a lot of focus on the thousands of Nepalis desperate to leave Kathmandu either for the countryside or India, but there has been relatively little on those who are returning. Our editor-at-large Obi Anyadike has just arrived in the Nepali capital, and has written a feature on those he met trying to get back home.

"Most were coming from Gulf states – like Kemras Dasel, who has worked as a storekeeper for a company in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia for the past seven years.

His family abandoned their home in Kathmandu after the walls cracked in the violence of Saturday’s 7.8-magnitude quake. Two of Dasel’s relatives are dead, one a six-year-old child. They are among more than 5,000 people reported dead so far. 

His family has been living under tarpaulin in their old neighbourhood for the past three days, fearful of the aftershocks. “Everyone is in so much problems. I want to do what I can to help."

USING drones in the response

An interesting video from the BBC about how aid organisations are using drones to better map the response to Nepal's crisis. Something of a hot topic in the aid world, the use of drones is at the same time effective and controversial.

Airport still overloaded

IRIN's editor-at-large Obi Anyadike is now in Kathmandu, but was delayed several hours circling the airport.  We have heard the same story from other recent arrivals. The airport has only one runway and can apparently only handle eight planes at any given time. This bottle neck is having a major impact on the ability to get aid and humanitarian responders in, though the airport in the second city of Pokhara is also open.


looting and aid under threat

There are a growing number of worrying reports of looting and aid workers being threatened.

The Reuters news agency reports that 200 Nepalis protested outside parliament over the lack of available buses, while a convoy of humanitarian groups was attacked on the way to the remote region of Sindulpalchowk. Scuffles have been reported between security forces and people are desperate for food and water. The AFP news wire reports that a truck carrying drinking water was forced off the road, with looters then throwing the bottles into the crowd.



An update on the humanitarian response this morning:

- The latest government figure puts the number of dead at 4,358 deaths and the number of injured at 8,174. Search and rescue teams have pulled 14 people from the rubble.

- Some remote villages have finally received aid, dropped by helicopter, but getting teams to many areas remains impossible.

- Nepal has told aid agencies that it does not need more foreign rescue teams as its military could cope. Instead it has called for financial support.

- Up to 90 percent of health facilities in the regions of Ramechapp, Nuwakot, Sindhupalchowk and Gorkha have been severely damaged, according to the UN's latest situation report.

- TV channels and newspapers in Nepal continue to operate but are run on reserve power and may run out of fuel in the coming days, according to the latest report by NGO Communicating with Disaster Affected Communities (CDAC).

- The United Nations continues to call for donations to its flash appeal.

- In the capital Kathmandu, thousands of people are fleeing either to try to return to their villages to see their family or for India.



Thousands of families have been sleeping outside in makeshift camps since the earthquake struck (Naresh Newar/IRIN)   

Thousands of families have been sleeping outside in makeshift camps since the earthquake struck (Naresh Newar/IRIN)   

Hundreds of makeshift camps have sprung up around the Nepalese capital Kathmandu in the aftermath of Saturday's destructive earthquake. Some people have lost their homes in the disaster. Others are simply too scared of aftershocks to move back inside a building. Humanitarian agencies say there is an urgent need to improve conditions in the camps and are warning that poor sanitation is a looming health hazard, as Naresh Newar found out when he visited some of the camps for IRIN. 




If you wanted to understand just how difficult the aid response in Nepal is, consider this shocking statistic from a new update from ACAPS - an organisation which assesses humanitarian needs during crises.

Since the earthquake on Saturday, only four medical teams have been able to reach affected areas outside of Kathmandu. Four teams, with millions in need. 

Other key points:

- 1.4 million people are in urgent need of food. Many small grocery shops have reopened, but large stores remain closed.

- As monsoon rains are predicted until 8 May, alternative accommodation to tents must be found as they will not withstand the weather.

- Power throughout Kathmandu is limited, with most households relying on generators.

- Hospitals are running out of space and medicine.

With that rather depressing update, we are signing off for the night.



Across the world, aid agencies are often wary of working too closely with militaries for fear of jeopardising their independence. But Mervyn Lee, a senior adviser with Mercy Corps with over 30 years’ experience working in Nepal, says in this case they may need to rely on them more than comes naturally.

He said the remote location of those in need (see two posts below) mean that getting aid in without helicopters will be a huge challenge. Who has lots of helicopters? Militaries. 

"The Indian army has sent something like 15 or 16 helicopters in and I understand other helicopters are on the way. Helicopters are by far the best way to assess the damage in these remote areas, get casualties out and aid in."

"In the Pakistan earthquake in 2005 the Pakistani army really took control of the operation. Even agencies that were prone not to work with the military suddenly realised that you couldn't do that kind of operation without the military – they were essential to it. And they provided a tremendous service of logistics support and helicopter transport. Unless that’s organised here and we start to operate like that, it’ll be a long time before these people get the help they need."

A dilapidated house in the Nepali capital Kathmandu (Naresh Newar/IRIN)

A dilapidated house in the Nepali capital Kathmandu (Naresh Newar/IRIN)


Willitts-King also said Nepal's capacity to deal with deliveries of goods is incredibly limited. For that reason, he said, it was important that those wanting to help pledge money, rather than second-hand goods.

"It is a tiny airport [in Kathmandu] - just one runway. Attempts have been made to help planes offload quicker [but it is] all done by hand, everything is very slow."

"This is an enormous relief operation, it needs to be run smoothly... There is so much good will and well-meaning people may want to donate second hand clothes [but] managing that will be very difficult."

"It is not a government that has a huge amount of capacity, it is a poor country still recovering from a civil war. Their ability to manage [second-hand goods] is very limited."


'an impossible area to deliver aid to'

IRIN's Joe Dyke just spoke with Barnaby Willitts-King, research fellow at the humanitarian programme at the Overseas Development Institute (ODI), about the challenges for aid workers in the coming weeks.

Willitts-King, who lived in Nepal for three years when he worked for the United Nations, said getting any kind of aid to mountainous areas close to the epicentre such as Gorkha will be an enormous challenge. He also pointed out the disproportionately high number of women and children in such remote, rural areas.

“Families there are pretty poor, most of the income will come from migration – men travel either to the cities or the Gulf and send money back."

“A lot of the communities are not connected by roads. There has been a major campaign to connect regional centers at least by road, but the villages are often not. Nepalis walk amazing distances to get food, while a lot of goods are delivered by porter.”

"Helicopters are important to get a sense of where the centres are, but you have a huge problem with the roads. You can have a completely clear road but then a landslide comes and it is blocked for days.

"If you are trying to get in building materials to rebuild houses that is really hard. I remember at WFP [the World Food Programme] we used a helicopter to carry cement.

"Even then, there are no flat places in a lot of areas – there is nowhere to land a helicopter."



Eight million people affected. One million children in need of aid. 

These are the latest devastating figures, but they can sound arbitrary. So here's the methodology for how they reached such huge numbers.

“The estimated number of affected people was calculated using data from the 2011 Census and Government guidance that 50 percent of the total population in affected districts is affected,” the office of the most senior UN official in Nepal said in a report. "This includes the number of households living in poor quality and vulnerable homes with outer walls and/or foundations made of substandard material. The number of households affected was further estimated based on the intensity of the earthquake as it was estimated to have been felt in each location. These figures are based solely on baseline data and models. It is an indicative figure which can be used only for preliminary planning.”

These numbers are necessarily imprecise at this stage as there is so little reliable information. They could be adjusted up or down as we learn more, but either way it is clear the needs are huge.


Who is doing what?

A bit more information on who is doing what and in which areas. InterAction, a body that represents many US-led aid groups, has drawn together a useful list of what its members are doing. Many organisations are still mobilising their responses, with much of the effort still concentrated  in and around Kathmandu. That chimes with what we are hearing from other sources: delivering aid to remote villages far from the capital remains incredibly challenging.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs has launched a webpage with all the key documents on the response.

The rain returns

Bad news for those Nepalese sleeping outside and for aid agencies trying to reach them: the rains have returned. The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs warns it is expected to rain for the next ten days.

World Vision's Matt Darvas has  posted a video of the downpours in Gorkha province, which he says could cause further landslides and prevent helicopters from carrying out search-and-rescue operations.

This is just now in Gorkha, Nepal. The weather has set in and this is only going to make rescue efforts more challenging. It's my belief that helicopters won't be able to fly in this weather and it will increase the chances of landslides. #nepalearthquake.Posted by Emma Lovell on behalf of Matt Darvas. International Media please contact diwa.aquino.gacosta from World Vision International on Skype. For Australian enquiries, please contact

Posted by Matt Darvas on Tuesday, April 28, 2015

DEBT RELIEF for nepal?

Here's one (perhaps unrealistic) idea to help Nepal recovery - a US charity is calling for some of the country's debts to be scrapped.

Nepal ranks 145th out of 187 countries in the United Nations Human Development Index and is heavily indebted – the country owes $3.8 billion in debt to foreign lenders and spent $217 million repaying debt in 2013.

Of the debt, $1.5 billion is owed to the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank and $54 million to the International Monetary Fund.

The Jubilee USA Network has called for some of that debt to be cancelled or at least postponed as the country seeks to recover. “Relieving Nepal's debts not only provides resources now, but can also help the country rebuild,” Eric LeCompte, executive director of the religious development coalition, said.

Before and after

Four days after a devastating earthquake in Nepal.

- The latest announcement from the home ministry puts the death toll at 4,349.

- The government estimates the number of dead could reach 10,000 in the coming days.

UNOSAT, the UN's satellite imagery specialists, have released some before and after satellite imagery on the Nepal earthquake. Here we see the mushrooming of temporary tents (location unspecified) after the quake, highlighting the shelter needs of survivors.

Analysis conducted by UNITAR/UNOSAT.
Copyright: CNES 2015, Distribution Airbus Defence and Space



When sadness turns to blame?

As hundreds of thousands across Nepal prepare for a third night sleeping rough, some are starting to discuss whether Nepalese officials were negligent of the threat.

We are logging off for the evening, but will leave you with a provocative analysis article from our news editor Anthony Morland. In the piece, "Why wasn't quake-prone Nepal better prepared?", he questions whether the Nepalese government ignored the threat of an earthquake due to political infighting.

He writes: "Disaster response in Nepal is still guided by the 1982 Natural Calamities Relief Act. More up-to-date legislation on how response should be coordinated was drafted in 2008, but because of Nepal’s political instability in the wake of a 1996 to 2006 conflict with Maoist rebels, parliament has not yet debated the bill, let alone passed it into law."



Learning old lessons

Aid agencies respond to major earthquakes every year, and yet often their responses face the same criticisms. In a bid to prevent this, ACAPS, a think-tank which focuses on the performance of humanitarian agencies, has compiled some key lessons learned from previous emergencies and recommendations for this one. Here are the highlights:

- The influx of hundreds of humanitarian organisations, many of whom were not well-informed , posed a huge issue after the 2010 earthquake in Haiti. To avoid a repeat, have key experienced staff in place and establish operational protocols early.

- Rapid urban development and failure to comply with building codes made Kathmandu’s infrastructure extremely vulnerable. Appropriate shelter reconstruction and provision will be key to a successful response.

- Clearing blocked roads and managing the removal of debris will be an urgent priority. Identify space for shelter and waste early on.

- Local communities have strong relationships, personal skills, organisational abilities, important norms and values, effective leaders and the ability to make decisions. So engage with them.

- Relief items need to be culturally appropriate, and cash assistance must be targeted to affected families as they wait for more permanent shelter.

- Challenging terrain needs careful navigation: steep slopes that are prone to landslides will continue to be a very serious problem.

The coming challenges

Our editor-at-large Obi Anyadike has written an article discussing the challenges for Nepal and the aid response in the coming days. Here is a brief summary:

- Poor transport links, with many roads destroyed. Flights are being delayed by several hours (see post two below)

- Shortage of warehouse space to store aid that will be flown in.

- Not enough tents in makeshift camps.

Read more here.


Mass cremations as search continues

Journalist Juliette Rousselot has just sent us this haunting image showing multiple bodies being cremated at the cremation site in Bhaktapur.


Rousselot has just published an article on IRIN looking at the ongoing hunt for survivors buried under the rubble of Kathmandu and other cities. She says that there is still faith that rescuers will find some people alive.

"The more time passes, the more the chance of pulling survivors out alive from under the rubble diminishes. But there is still hope. Peter Damm from the Danish Red Cross told IRIN that past examples of survivors being found alive up to 10 days after such disasters drives their determination to continue the rescue effort."


15 PLANES 'waiting TO LAND'

A worrying update from Flight Radar 24 which shows that Kathmandu airport is out of parking space, with many planes waiting hours to land. Those waiting will likely include those carrying aid workers or supplies.



Technology as aid

A number of tech companies are using innovative approaches to help improve the humanitarian response in Nepal.

Broadly-speaking, Nepal's Internet is still working. But monitoring company Dyn says last-mile connectivity could be lost in certain areas, leaving many villages and smaller communities potentially offline.

Google has deployed Person Finder, a Web application that lets people post or search for information on relatives and friends affected by a disaster. The company did not provide immediate data on the effectiveness of the tool, which early Monday was tracking about 5,000 records.

Facebook has activated Safety Check, which traces users near a disaster based on the city they list on their profile or from the location they last used to access the Internet. Users are then asked to confirm if they are safe or if they are not in the affected area.

The Red Cross also has a Web tool for people to report relatives and friends who they think are missing, who can then report back that they are alive.

 The tech aid drive is not limited to people finding tools. Online phone service Viber – which allows people to make calls using the Internet at a cheaper rate – has made all calls in the country free.

 One Hour Translation is offering its service for free to help aid workers communicate with the local population, who speak around 120 languages. And aid organisations and others can use Global Finder's high-res satellite imagery for free by entering username “nepal" and password “forcrisis".

 Local Nepali initiatives are also springing up. Community tech group Kathmandu Living Labs has conjured up an interactive damage map.  



This map the humanitarian analysis group, ACAPS, shows how much of Nepal has been impacted by the earthquake. So far, aid agencies can’t reach huge parts of the country outside Kathmandu and rains are forecast for the coming three days.

Screenshot 2015-04-27 14.00.40.png

And this image posted on Twitter by the journalist Umesh Shrestha, who has the Twitter handle Salokya, claims to show the first drone footage of the ancient city of Bhaktapur, which was heavily damaged in the earthquake.


Check out our Nepal Twitter list here:















The humanitarian response - an update:

Some more information on the shape of the humanitarian response:

   - The government of Nepal has officially requested international assistance and declared a state of emergency. The government's Central Natural Disaster Relief Committee (CNDRC) held an emergency meeting, followed by meetings with the Cabinet and humanitarian groups.

 - The international aid response is still in its formative stages. Outside Kathmandu, there is scant information from several districts near the epicentre of the earthquake and reports that many areas have received no aid at all.. A senior aid figure involved in the response told IRIN that there is no access to large parts of the country.

- Kathmandu airport has reportedly not suffered major damage and is open to relief flights.

 - International search-and-rescue teams from a number of countries and major international NGOs are arriving in the country, with many more expected in the coming hours. "Efforts will have to be very well coordinated," Shawsat Saraf, Asia operations director for Action Against Hunger, told IRIN, "We will have to be very careful that we are not concentrated only in urban centres and very visible areas. We need to be sure that there is very clear division of roles and responsibilities and clear channels for information coming in."

The cluster system has been activated: health, shelter, protection, water and sanitation (WASH), and education are all meeting this morning with UN agencies, the Nepalese government and local and international NGOs all joining.

 -  Over $30 million of aid has been pledged so far. A full list of updated pledges can be seen further down this page.

- Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations Development Programme's Representative in Nepal, has called for a fast response. "It is essential that we move quickly and effectively," he said. "We need to ensure that no further lives are lost and the needs of the most vulnerable are prioritised."

- Humanitarian analysis group ACAPS is warning that aftershocks are likely to continue for some time and that three days of rain are expected to make the situation even worse. "Aftershocks are expected to cause further damage and debilitate already weak infrastructure," the ACAPS briefing note says.


'Scale likely to grow'

More from our interview with Shawsat Saraf, regional operations director for Asia at Action Against Hunger. He delivered a stark warning that the number of casualties being quoted is likely to rise sharply in the coming days as aid workers are able to get outside the capital Kathmandu. Currently blocked roads mean that they simply can't reach people near the epicentre of the earthquake. 

"A lot of the information coming out is still from Kathmandu and the neighbourhoods of Kathmandu. There is very little information that is coming from the districts that have been affected, and especially the districts around the epicenter.

"To some extent the reason is issues around access because some of the roads are blocked and some of the communication lines are not working between the affected areas and Kathmandu.

"Our impression is that as soon as we are able to do assessments and reach out to people in rural and semi-urban areas away from Kathmandu, we will suddenly see a very different kind of disaster in terms of both nature and scale."

So expect to see the number of casualties rise a lot further. In 2010 the National Society for Earthquake Technology-Nepal predicted an earthquake in Kathmandu could kill 100,000 people.



Nepal is particularly prone to earthquakes, as tectonic fault line runs through the south of the country. In 1934 Kathmandu was nearly destroyed after an earthquake measuring 8.4 on the Richter scale. This Wall Street Journal article maps the fault line and how the earthquake happened.

Disaster newsonomics

Everest is mentioned in 23 percent of news articles but accounts for fewer than seven percent of deaths.


Malnutrition already a major crisis

While the earthquake is a new tragedy, Nepal’s desperate malnutrition problem is an old one. Fourty-one percent of children under five are stunted, 29 percent are underweight and 11 percent are wasted, according to the World Food Programme. In mountainous areas, some of which were badly affected by the earthquake, chronic malnutrition is as high as 60 percent.

For more information, see IRIN's article 'Five reasons malnutrition still kills in Nepal.'


"One million in need of aid"

The international NGO Action Against Hunger (known by its French acronym ACF) has estimated that around one million Nepalese will need aid following the earthquake. Communication lines across the country have been damaged, while water shortages are a huge concern, ACF spokesperson Leah Oatway told IRIN. 

An aid worker from the Red Cross tends to an injured Nepalese man

An aid worker from the Red Cross tends to an injured Nepalese man


Who has pledged what?

Here's a running, non-exhaustive list of the largest pledges of support for Nepal.  If you spot pledges we've missed, tweet us: @irinnews.

United Kingdom - $7.5 million

Canada - $5 million

Australia - $4 million

Norway - $3.9 million

United Arab Emirates - $1.36 million

New Zealand - At least $1 million

South Korea - $1 million

United States - $1 million

Taiwan - $300,000

India - No financial commitment yet, but "all out support" pledged

Pakistan - Four C-130 aircraft carrying a 30-bed hospital, search and rescue teams, relief items.

Sri Lanka - Relief supplies

Qatar - Naval bridge

Israel - Search and rescue teams

China - Search and rescue teams

Germany - Search and rescue teams


What's different about earthquakes?

For aid organisations, responding to an earthquake is different than other disasters. The impact tends to be heavily concentrated, while they lead to more causalities and more rubble (which has to be cleared immediately) than other disasters. This document from the humanitarian think-tank ALNAP brings together 30 years of experience in responding to earthquakes.

Some of the key points it makes:

- The recovery phase is likely to last three to five years.

- From the very beginning, aid agencies should plan to shift from short-term relief to recovery operations relatively quickly.

- Too often responses to natural disasters have the unintended consequence of widening the gap between the rich and the poor. Aid agencies must realise the way they engage will not be neutral and seek to avoid adding to inequality.

- Don't worry so much about dead bodies. The actual public health threat is relatively limited, so if at all possible the living should be allowed to bury the dead. Burying them without the families' consent under the pretext of public health will generate anger.


Lessons from previous earthquakes

Earthquakes happen every year across the world, yet aid agencies are often slow to learn the lessons of previous responses. Three months after the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs published a heavily critical document calling the response a "missed opportunity" to prove the effectiveness of international aid.

"Despite the quick mobilization of aid, the quality of the achievements was drastically affected by serious constraints linked to the magnitude of the disaster, the uncontrollable flow of frequently inexperienced small NGOs, the inappropriateness of many practices in urban contexts, and weak global leadership," it said.

Have lessons been learned this time around?


A nightmare scenario coming true

Two years ago to the day that this disastrous earthquake hit, IRIN's Kyle Knight published an article in which he asked experts to model the damage a quake could have in Kathmandu.

In a depressingly prescient warning, he pointed out that disaster preparedness in Nepal was limited, while the city is the "most dangerous in the world" in terms of susceptibility to natural catastrophes.

In the coming days the location of Kathmandu, one of the highest capital cities in the world, means getting delivering will be a huge challenge. Oxfam Nepal's country director warned in 2013: “Haiti was an island, so that meant nautical access was possible. Kathmandu is far more isolated than an island.” 

You can read the rest of the article here.


Kathmandu Reflections

Aid worker, journalist and former Kathmandu resident, Martin Dawes, reflects on the earthquake for IRIN.  

The vulnerability of those living in the teeming Kathmandu Valley was clear and obvious. It was not just severe poverty levels set among a kaleidoscopic fusion of Hindu and Buddhist cultures. It was the brick-built buildings that searched their way upwards and seemed to loom over the roads, crowding in over streets that were seldom empty of cars, bicycles and hurrying people.

'Good luck getting through that if it all comes down,' I used to think to myself in the way of people seeing a danger they can do nothing about. 

Sometimes it would be spoken as another floor was added to a building on the way home from work. Building restrictions were beginning to be applied to draw back from the vital roads, arteries that needed to be opened fast in a disaster. But by the nature of things, people built where they could as that residential bowl spread out to accommodate more and more people. '

Read the rest of Martin's reflections here


Shortage of clean drinking water 

At around 17:30 GMT, journalist Mallika Aryal sent IRIN this update: 

People are camping out on the streets, fearing aftershocks. We've had about 25 so far since 12pm when the first one hit. The last one was around 7:55 NST. 

Shortage of clean drinking water. The shops close to where I am have run out. 

It will be a cold night for those who are staying in tents. Many are small children. 

Most monuments in and around Kathmandu valley and older buildings suffered, but significant damage in new houses and buildings.

Unreliable 'predictions' making people fear even more on the streets of Kathmandu. 


Grieving for neighbours lost

At around 15:00 GMT on 25 April, Nepali journalist Naresh Newar, who lives in Kathmandu, sent this update: 

"Internet dead and 3G working but weak signal. Been helping my neighbours Six dead next door and unable to get them out of rubble. Two big buildings collapsed. Lot of people taking shelter in my flat as they are mostly homeless. Lots of houses dilapidated..

"Depression is growing due to the stress of how to rebuild homes. Most are low income families in our neighbourhood of New Dhobighat near the Ring Road.

"Many are now out in the field trying to sleep without much to warm themselves. There is no food and little water left. People are already catching cold. 

"A handful of homes are safe. I am one of hte lucky ones. 

"Mainstream international news and some aid agencies are sending alerts that are fear-mongering to an already panicky people with very little on how to prepare themselves in case of another tremor. Trying hard to calm people, but not easy. The trauma is growing." 



At around 14:00 GMT on 25 April, Juliette Rousselot, a freelance journalist in Kathmandu, told IRIN the scene in the capital was "chaotic".

Many of Kathmandu’s historic monuments, including UNESCO World Heritage sites, have been completely destroyed by the earthquake, such as almost all of the temples in Basantapur Durbar Square in central Kathmandu," she said. "It has been reported that similar scenes were found in Patan Durbar Square and in Bakhtapur. Because these are very touristic sites, many people were in and around the temples at the time of the earthquake, and many people found themselves buried underneath the rubble."

She added that it remained hard to get information from outside Kathmandu as phone lines were saturated and Internet was slow.