Support Disaster Victims of Nepal

Context

There is a hot discussion going on about the support issue. I think it will be easy to operate now. I visited Devichaur VDC in Lalitpur on May 1, 2015. In that VDC Burungchuli mainly settled by Tamangs about 60-65 households are destroyed needing support. They said they do not need food or water but temporary shelter. There we have two women’s groups which we can mobilize for support. In Tokalmath in the same VDC mainly settled by Tamang also about 75 households are demolished. They also requested the same support because food and other relief materials are being distributed there. Danuwar (poorest community there) Village and Dukuchhap mainy Tamang about 125 households are demolished. We could not visit them but got the info from the women’s groups federation who we can mobilize for support distribution. We met local MP who was roaming around there with people who were not affected. One organization came there to distribute relief. As there were many people so they announced that there were not enough materials everybody so they would distribute next day. But when people mostly poor and affected left the relief was distributed to those who were not affected.

On May 2nd for whole day we visited SindhuPalchok: the worst hit area about 45% of dead are from there around 2838 dead out of total death of 7265. We saw a whole house demolished which killed 26 people but there may be some more inside because it is just bad smell around there. A little above one church fell off and 20 people dead and five are still missing. It is just an example. It is the same story in Lamo Sangu, Sukute, Kothe, Barha Bise, Melamche, etc. We could not reach two villages where I wanted to visit Sarki (Poorest and most neglected, shoe makers community) and another Newar village: Tauthali totally demolished with two renowned and famous temples. Relief is being distributed without any system, I do not think that we should get involved in rescue because it is beyond our capacity, relief being distributed very much but is not reaching poor, invalid and in inaccessible area. There is possibility for reaching them later. We saw a lot of relief materials being transported there but there was no system of distribution; they were mostly going to powerful. Poor and needy were so frustrated they started looting the materials from the vehicles. Rehabilitation is important first. Then later we can think about reconstruction and income generation, etc. New ERA also has allocated 25 lakh for collecting information.

A lot of relief and monitory support is pouring in but Government is trying to distribute through its own agencies which are beset with corruption and embezzlement. Government is putting emphasis on reconstruction of their own offices and buildings rather than affected people. They are distributing Rs. 40000 for cremation of dead people, 2000-5000 for rapair. NGOs and civil society organizations are also distributing tarpaulin, chow-chow, rice, etc. But there are a lot of political influences. so real needy do not have access to them. The powerful and not affected people are benefiting out of relief distribution.

Possible Problems and Issues

After a month rainy season will start so people have difficulties. I am not sure whether tarpaulin or simple tent is the solution. I also have slept under the tarpaulin. I had stomach problem because of cold. If we distribute it it will be useful for one month only. Even now, a lot of dead bodies human and animals both are not rescued so they are decomposing and some corpses are thrown in the river which may have polluted water. So there is possibility of outbreak of diseases. People are using open space toilets, water sources are polluted so it will augment the outbreak. About one million people from the Kathmandu valley left for their homes; from the hills to see affected families and from the Terai being afraid of frequent after-shocks and outbreak. As the agriculture season is starting probably they will not be back until next three months or so no permanent rehabilitation and reconstruction could be started. Anyhow brick prices have gone up to Rs. 50 per piece almost five times. There is no possibility making new bricks and many old brick kilns are demolished. This is the time when food shortage especially of seasonal workers and poor will usually face. As most of the food owned by landlords also are destroyed so there will be food shortage and famine. For the time being it is not a need because it is being distributed but later on it will be a problem. There seem to be some shortages of sugar, oil, etc. There will be human resources shortages for cleaning debris of fallen homes and even dangerous to take out things and build something for rehabilitation. As people are living in a crowded condition, water source may be polluted and water is collected in an open pot, toilets are also destroyed so people are using open spaces, insects are attracted by light under the shacks, snakes and rats are also coming out. All these are possibilities of outbreak of diseases. As weather has started heating up dead bodies are still inside the debris, the smell is becoming unbearable, Government is changing policies and rules making it difficult to follow them. Initially government said that they would distribute Rs. 25000 for repair and Rs. 100000 for reconstruction. Now they are saying Rs. 2000-5000 with opening for corruption possibility. Already many stories of corruption and embezzlement are coming out. It is quite disheartening to see some welfare distributors having picnic and entertainment mood in the area but most others are doing good job.

Some Solutions

WATCH likes to look its own possible resources and what it can do. Considering possible support from friends also it likes to get involved in following activities;
1. Based on possible support it will concentrate in three areas where it had women’s groups and women’s organization supported by WATCH. One will be south Lalitpur in Devichaur VDC where 205 houses are demolished but no casualties. We will concentrate there with Tamang, Danuwar and low castes. Second area will be in Sindhu Palchok probably in Tauthali and Sarki and low caste area. Later may be in Okhaldhunga in Rampur and Rangadeep with low caste and Rai community..
2. WATCH is thinking about two options for immediate rehabilitation. One is buying a kit with two tarpaulins, and other necessary materials costing about Rs. 10000 per family. This was distributed during the Sunami in the Andaman. Or use temporary zinc (Tin) house which can be utilized later for building the permanent house also. WATCH estimates about Rs. 15000-20000 per family for this.
3. WATCH would like to see if there is a possibility of starting a temporary community toilets. But it may not be feasible or possible. During the calamity people were together but slowly after starting of relief distribution people are becoming individualistic again. Otherwise temporary toilets have to be built.
4. It will form a committee of local people mainly women to make decisions about the distribution and access resources from the government and other sources. Through them hygiene and sanitation education will be disseminated. Some materials will be developed for hygiene and sanitation.
5. Some emergency medicines for headaches, diarrhoea, dysentery, stomach bloating, sanitation pads, etc, have to be made available as needed.
6. As rape cases and girls and women’s abuses are also started, so they will be made aware about this issue and discuss in the groups how to prevent them and tale actions.
7. WATCH has received a water filtering system which can filter up to 1200 litres of water a day. WATCH is planning to utilize it for providing safe drinking water, WATCH is starting to produce low cost chlorine for disinfecting and also for water purification.
8. People need, at least, one extra pair of clothes because they had not been able to bring those materials from their fallen homes so that at least they can wash and clean themselves. Later they will need warm clothes for winter.
9. After initial distribution of relief there may be possibility of food shortages and famine. WATCH would like to supply super flour (made of two parts legumes and one part grain and one part millet) to babies, children with malnutrition, lactating mothers, pregnant women and sick people. It is easy to eat with water. People can make themselves also. WATCH will also hold some rice and lentils for emergencies which will be distributed only to the needy.

Cost Estimates:
Three persons including driver, one health person and one social mobilize @ Rs. 30000 a month for one year = 3x12x30000 = 1080000
One Vehicle (to be supplied by WATCH) and Fuel: 20000 a month x 12 = 240000
Support for household rehabilitation Rs 20000 per household for 500 households: 500 x 20000 = 10000000
Medicines: 200000
Super flour = 200000
Emergency Food stocks+ 1000000
Awareness raising materials: 100000
Administration = 120000
Total for Earthquake rehabilitation for 500 families for one year: Rs. 12940000
The rehabilitation activities will be channelized through women’s groups and rehabilitation committees formed for this purpose. Every three months income and expenditure reports and progress reports with photographs will be sent to donors and posted in the WATCH’s website for transparency.

WATCH’s Plan

WATCH has decided to create an Emergency Relief Fund because such emergencies are recurring in Nepal very frequently. Until now WATCH has not been involved in this kind of activities except putting money in other relief agencies. WATCH has come to conclusions that relief is also human rights and humanitarian action. It has to be dealt with human rights approach giving decision making rights to the affected people access rights and resources through awareness and organizing. WATCH likes to involve the Disaster Risk Reductions and Relief. It will slowly create a cadre of people in the model it created cadre of people to work with community forestry, HIV/AIDS prevention, women’s empowerment, etc. WATCH Board has agreed to create a fund and allocated first instalment of Rs. 1000000. It has also decided to request its well-wishers and donors to support this effort. WATCH will create a separate account for this purpose.