I target to raise as much as possible for Nepal Earthquake Relief Programme.
Shelters Up Nepal
It has been more than two weeks since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on the April 25, and the relief work has already entered its recovery stage. Even though the casualty is not as high as it had been predicted by studies before the disaster, the destruction brought by the earthquake to the country and the survivors is immense. It is going to be a long recovery process.
The relief work is led by the Nepali government and of course there are local and international NGOs involved. In the meantime, there are amazingly large number of initiatives organised by both local and foreign volunteers, who have raised funds, sourced the necessary aid materials for survival and distributed them promptly to those affected by the disaster to preserve lives. Shelters Up Nepal is one of these volunteer-led initiatives.
I (Chuen Man) have been in Kathmandu Valley since the fourth day of the earthquake, volunteering with both local and international NGOs and visiting different villages. I came into realisation that the damages caused by this disaster are far from my imagination. I eyewitnessed some villages almost have all their houses completely destroyed, enormous number of people have become homeless including children and the frails.
Those volunteering experiences helped me learn quickly what were the actual situations on the ground and allowed me to have time to network more local people. Slowly, I have started my partnership with local networks and bridged overseas resources to send food to villages as far as five hours away from Kathmandu Valley. For villages which are far away from main roads, there are huge challenges to provide timely assistance to them.
Why focus on Temporary Shelters
After two weeks of on-the-ground experience, working with local and international NGOs, partnering with local networks, talking with survivors, and observing by ourselves, we have decided to move on to the next phase and focus our works on providing temporary shelters to the homeless as this is what the locals have been telling us the highest priority of their needs.
By what we have seen, quite many of them have received tarpaulins from the government or NGOs by now, some are still sleeping in structure like greenhouse for farming, and we also have encountered small number of people are still sleeping under open sky. Even for those sleeping under tarpaulins, they are worried that when the monsoon season is approaching, the tarpaulins are not going to keep them dry. Imagine that hundreds of thousands homeless people sleeping at open space for few months during the rainy season, there is significant concern for their health particularly for children and the elderly.
Our objective is clear and focused, to provide temporary shelters to those severely affected and remote villages before the monsoon season starts so as to preserve life, to prevent further humans’ suffering, and to facilitate the returning to normality after the disaster.
In saying that, if resources allow, we will be responding to other needs as well. Our operation is flexible based on needs assessment.
- Help the most needed
- Provide assistance mindfully based on needs
- Utilize local networks and knowledge
- Empower local people to help themselves, listening to their voices and getting them involved in the process as much as the situation allows
- Do not duplicate governmental, NGOs and other individual groups’ efforts
How we work
- Partner with local networks
- to gather information of villages which need assistance promptly
- to co-ordinate with the local leaders of villages
- to assist in logistics including sourcing items locally and arranging transport
- Raise fund from overseas to purchase and deliver temporary shelters and related items to the homeless as soon as possible
- Perform the role as the bridge between overseas supporters and local partners, to ensure the resources are used properly based on the urgency of needs.
- Implement a transparent and accountable process from funds collection, aid provision and outcomes achieved.
Community Needs Assessment
It is easy to give but how to give mindfully to help the most needed will require some assessments. Of course we have to act swiftly and do not want unnecessary bureaucratic process, but we do need to identify the most needed otherwise the resources would not be utilized in the most effective way. There are few different channels we will do the assessment.
Firstly, our local partners will gather information from their networks to identify potential villages which need assistance urgently.
Secondly, we have developed a thorough community needs assessment form to cover information from demographic data to various aspects of need for individual villages. It is a tool covering all aspects of need in details, but we are not obligated to fill in every single questions on the form. Instructions will be given to our local partners and volunteers how to use the tool flexibly and in a humane way.
Thirdly, we will also utilize the reports produced by the government and shared by other groups of volunteers to avoid duplication of assistance provided to the same village.
Finally, we will visit potential villages, observe by ourselves and listen to the locals to ensure we are providing the assistance which can truly help them in the coming few months. This kind of field observation will also allow us to identify the most vulnerable individuals in the village.
Types of Temporary Shelter
What shelter is the best for the survivors? There is no straight forward answer. Nevertheless, building a long term house is out of question before the monsoon season finished, and we believe the Nepali government shall take up more responsibility in assisting its people in doing so.
Tarpaulins, the most common shelters people have been using since the earthquake hit are cheap, which is easy to set up but easy to break as well. Therefore, they may not be able to keep those homeless families dry in the monsoon season.
Tents seems to be a much better option for the rainy season, but they are unreasonable expensive to buy in Nepal now. In saying that, there is still chance we can source suitable and affordable tents from outside Nepal such as China and India.
After listening to the locals, we are also exploring another option called CGI sheets which are made of steel. We have seen some villagers who picked up some still intact CGI sheets from their broken houses and built a temporary shelter. It is more expensive as compared to tarpaulin, but far more durable. It could definitely give those homeless families a solid roof over the head for months before their long term accommodation is sorted.
One size does not fit all. We recognise that there are many factors to determine what type of temporary shelters suits the best for a particular village or even particular individuals. It could be the terrain, the logistics of transportation, availability of materials, and of course our financial resources too.
Therefore, we would not limit to one type of shelters. We will consider all the factors mentioned above during our assessment, and consult with the local leaders to reach a consensus what types of shelter to provide.
Period of the Project
It is a short term project as we believe the responsibility of the long term recovery from the disaster lies on the hands of local people and their government. For Shelters Up Nepal, we are aiming at working on the ground for approximately two months depending on the needs.
I am the co-founder of Nature’s Embrace. I wish to contribute to help the victims of the devastating earthquake.
Contribute any amount
Thank you for your donations.