Power of the People

Nepal is located in a seismically active zone and is considered the eleventh most vulnerable place on earth from an earthquake disaster point of view; Nepal did not recently move to this top spot. The earthquake that severely affected at least 14 districts, caused complex problems with loss of life and property. Till date, the worst hit district is Sindhupalchowk, with death toll of over 3200 and more than 90 per cent of houses completely destroyed. The rescue and relief that was supposed to reach within 24 and 72 hours respectively could not reach within that period due to difficult topography and subsequent landslides that made the transportation of materials impossible. Nepal has no reputation of being prepared for setbacks.

The residents of Baruwa (Sindhupalchowk), Satyadevi, Serthun, Jharlang (Upper Dhading), Mairung, Jibjibe, Borle (Rasuwa) were disconnected from the capital city for more than a week, from where rescue and relief operations were initiated with the help of national and international expert teams. Nepali security agencies, including Nepal Army, Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force did a commendable job with limited resources. Nepali security forces lacked enough helicopters, machines for drilling concrete structures, search-and-rescue robots, unmanned rotorcrafts and other equipment to conduct crucial rescue work. Therefore, foreign rescuers, including India, China, Israel, Japan, and Turkey came to Nepal with the government’s permission.

The earthquake that occurred on April 25 has not only shaken the ground, but also the governance system as it largely failed to provide basic facilities to affected people at the time of utmost need. However, the self-initiatives taken by individuals, institutions, clubs and community based organisations (CBOs) were praiseworthy. Individuals from different parts of the country rushed toward Gorkha, Sindhupalchowk, Rasuwa, Nuwakot, Kavre, Dolakha and other severely affected districts with food, tents, blankets, medicines, clothes et cetera with the true spirit of volunteerism. The representatives of Non-Resident Nepalis (NRN), Non-Government Organisations, and even profit making companies reached remote places to support the needy ahead of the government agencies. This delay in government initiated relief work is due to the fact that their activities have to go through lengthy bureaucratic processes. In addition to this, various individuals too initiatives in cleaning activities, distribution of drinking water, clearance of rubble and even taking dead bodies out from debris and damaged houses. Many people volunteered in hospitals, health camps and wherever possible to provide medical services. College students were busy providing psychosocial counseling and education related to awareness especially to children and women in temporary shelters. This kind of selfless activity has definitely increased our willingness to help those in remote locations who are living in vulnerable conditions.

Read more of Samriddhi’s Pramod Rijal’s post here!