The Catholic Agency for Justice, Peace and Development

Shelter a priority for remote villages reached by Caritas

Event date: 
07 May 2015

As Caritas' emergency response in Nepal moves into its second week and reaches ever more remote villages, initial Government estimates are that up to 500,000 houses may have been destroyed across the country - making shelter a top priority before the torrential monsoon rains arrive in a few short weeks.

Thousands of much-needed tarpaulins and hygiene kits are being distributed to households outside of Kathmandu, including villages in the Gorkha district where the devastating 7.8 earthquake was centred. Although only about 80 kilometres from Kathmandu, these villages are situated in some the most inaccessible areas of the country and include villages that had not yet received any assistance.

"Thank God we still have enough to eat and we still have some cows left. But what we urgently need is a tarpaulin of our own....Having my own tarpaulin [seems like] some kind of luxury to me,” says a resident of Marchugaun - a small village of about 120 inhabitants 30 kilometres from the epicentre.

In place of a village nearby lies only rubble. Around 90 percent of the houses have been totally destroyed and people are mourning the dozens of casualties. Those who survived spent nights out in the open, in the rain, until relief goods arrived.

"The impending monsoon season will bring more distress and the additional risk of disease outbreaks, so temporary shelter is essential for those still without a roof over their heads," says Mark Mitchell, Humanitarian Programmes Coordinator for Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand.

An estimated 8 million people have been affected by the earthquake and the Government reports that 13 of the 75 districts in the country have been severely impacted. Meanwhile, the death toll continues to rise past 7,000, with thousands injured, and more than 3 million people are in need of food.

Caritas is also providing food, clean water and sanitation, and counselling for those traumatised by the disaster, and the worldwide Caritas network has pledged 3 million Euros to the emergency response. This initial two-month response project aims to provide water purification tablets, hygiene kits, temporary shelter and other crucial items to 20,000 vulnerable households in the worst-affected parts of the country.

Caritas Aotearoa New Zealand has a long relationship with communities in Nepal and has worked alongside Caritas Nepal for more than a decade to support farmers in developing strong small farming and agro-business co-operatives. This has helped to improve the lives of rural poor, ensure food security and create sustainable economies for these communities.

*If donating online, select Nepal Disaster Fund

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Tutu ana te puehu - Stirring up the dust