Last year when disaster struck Nepal, your generosity to Federation’s disaster relief fund provided resources to the American Joint Jewish Distribution Committee (JDC) – saving lives, mending bones, and restoring hope to thousands. Below is an update from the field.
Though eight months have passed since the first of the devastating "twin" earthquakes struck Nepal on April 25, 2015, the country is still reeling from the impact. Over 8,800 people perished and 22,300 suffered injuries. The destruction of nearly 600,000 homes and damage to another 280,000 has irrevocably altered the landscape of the country.
Hundreds of thousands of survivors, in addition to grieving over families members who perished, have lost their homes, their food stores, and sources of livelihood. Living in makeshift shelters, they faced additional danger during the summer monsoon season, as heavy rains caused landslides, flooding, and increased risks of water-borne disease. Now with winter in full swing, the many thousands of people living in inadequate shelters are suffering from the cold temperatures.
As we carry out our in work across nine districts in Nepal (in the area surrounding Kathmandu), JDC is adapting to this evolving situation while continuing to target the needs of women and marginalized groups, who were particularly vulnerable even prior to the catastrophe, and who are now especially at risk for long-term economic and social distress.
JDC continues to maintain an ongoing presence on the ground coordinating with international relief efforts and forging local partnerships to enable communities to respond to their emerging needs. To date, JDC has assisted 49,000 of the most vulnerable people in Nepal. This report will focus primarily on our efforts in the second half of 2015.
RECOVERY EFFORTS: BUILDING RESILIENCE
JDC's key priorities in Nepal, now and in the months ahead, include the provision of community-based disaster risk reduction programs, livelihood support – especially for women – reconstruction of critical health facilities and public health education programs. Responding to the massive scale of damage in the area, JDC has undertaken multiple projects to reestablish a semblance of normalcy in daily life.
JDC continues to help various groups regain their sources of income. Specifically, JDC together with our partners, has constructed multi-purpose centers tailored to the needs of home-based female workers whose homes were lost or damaged, and thus also their equipment and sources of livelihood. The settings provide access to necessary equipment, training in new crafts such as sewing and tailoring, as well as safe childcare so that the women are able to work. In varied locations throughout the earthquake-affected region, 152 women to date are once again earning a living and providing for their families. These women also benefit from psychosocial support provided in partnership with the Israel Trauma Coalition (ITC) to help them overcome the trauma of losing their homes and loved ones.
In the Ramechhap district of Nepal, farmers are attending agricultural training programs to enable them to provide for their families, and recover the stability that comes with a regular income. JDC is also working with Israeli-Nepali NGO Tevel b'Tzedek to launch the Youth Service Project Initiative, a program patterned after the Israeli "National Service" model to encourage youth to take more active roles in strengthening their communities. To date, 40 idealistic young adults are receiving leadership training and leading community interventions in the areas of agriculture, women's empowerment, etc., thereby developing their own careers while assisting members of their community to gain the knowledge they need to thrive. Currently, 4,000 households in 40 different geographic zones are benefitting from the opportunities generated by these young volunteers.
Reconstruction of Community Infrastructure
JDC is striving to restore critical community infrastructures, which are necessary for provision of basic services. These include restoration of roads and water supply routes, examination of dams and irrigation canals and reconstruction/repair of schools. In light of the dearth of medical services in the hardest hit areas of Nepal, JDC is rebuilding two medical clinics, which were destroyed in the earthquakes in Nepal’s Dolakha district. This effort is part of a larger endeavor of JDC's to enhance the capacity of Dolakha public healthcare system.
Improving Public Health
As part of its overall efforts to boost resilience in Nepal’s most vulnerable locations, JDC is enhancing healthcare services. Along with supporting the construction of the aforementioned medical clinics, JDC is embarking on a partnership with the Israel-based NGO NATAN to enhance preventative and primary healthcare, particularly in the realms of women’s and maternal/fetal health. This endeavor will include training sessions for midwives, community health professionals and health educators in the Dhading district, which was heavily affected by the earthquakes. Support from JDC also furthered the efforts of a professional from Israel’s Magen David Adom (MDA) to serve as a community health delegate at the Norwegian Red Cross field hospital in Sindhupalchuwk, a village severely impacted by the earthquake. The MDA representative trained local health services staff and promoted good hygiene among children. Under his guidance, the local trainees composed and recorded a public awareness song about hygiene that now airs 10 times a day on local radio stations.
WITH MUCH APPRECIATION
With the passage of time, the crisis in Nepal has retreated from the daily headlines, but the Nepali people are still vulnerable and their needs are still intense, especially in light of extreme weather conditions and a weak infrastructure. Your help has made it possible for JDC to continue to deliver humanitarian aid and focusing on the most vulnerable, including women, marginalized groups, and people living in isolated villages, with little access to humanitarian aid.
You have also furthered JDC's efforts to transition from the emergency response phase to the recovery phase, which provides sustainable solutions to issues such as poverty, inequality of opportunity, and women's vulnerability.
Thank you for standing by the people of Nepal, as JDC and its field partners help them recover from this disaster, while creating opportunities to improve their lives.