Three months after Nepal was hit by two major earthquakes, WFTO reports about the reconstruction efforts in the country. We interviewed Chitra Bahadur KC, the director of New Sadle and president of WFTO-Asia, and Chandra Prasad Kachhipati, Chairperson of Fair Trade Group Nepal (FTGN) to give us updates on their initiatives.
Shortly after the disaster left many villages in ruins and claimed fatalities, on 25 April, FTGN responded by distributing several rounds of beaten rice, sugar, instant noodles, biscuits, water, and blankets to the most affected villages in Sindhupalchowk, Nuwakot, Dhading, Kavrepalanchowk and in the Kathmandu valley. This immediate relief operation cost approximately US$ 30,000.
1 May 2015
1,000 food packages (consisting of 1 kg beaten rice, half kilo sugar, 1 pack noodle, 2 packs biscuits, 1 sachet oral rehydration solution, and a bottle of water)
2 May 2015
500 food packages
5 May 2015 – Indian embassy donated:
1 truck load of beaten rice
100 kg brown sugar
300 cartons of bottled water
100 cartons of noodles
200 cartons of biscuits
These goods were immediately distributed after being repacked.
6 May 2015
2000 food packages
10 May 2015
Medical response – free medical health camp
13 doctors providing free services to 319 patients
Free medicines and lab tests
30 volunteers participated
12 May 2015
108 tents distributed
On 12 May, after the second earthquake, three different relief programmes were established to bring food to the population. A total number of 80 volunteers from FTG Nepal and its member organization- FTG, Mahaguthi, Sujha Traders, Wean multipurpose, Manushi, Association of Craft Producers, and New SADLE were engaged in these programmes. Several villagers whose houses were destroyed took refuge in tents distributed by the Fair Trade network. Chitra added that New Sadle provided medical and medicinal help for people suffering from diseases and trauma in Man Mohan Community Hospital in Kathmandu.
On behalf of FTGN, Chitra would like to thank their members, the Indian Embassy, and all the donors from the Fair Trade world. He also wanted to stress that even in a moment of great difficulty FTGN has remained committed to the principles of Fair Trade and has set medium- to long-term goals. These include cash support for homeless people, aid to victims’ families, the rebuilding of fallen structures, and low-interest loans for FTGN members’ personnel.
The earthquakes claimed 9,000 lives, injured over 23,000 people, flattened many villages, and damaged thousands of houses. This catastrophe is expected to have long-term consequences on the Nepali economy, since the cost of the quake is estimated as much as half on the annual GDP of the entire country. According to the World Bank, an additional 3% of the Nepali population has been pushed into poverty.
The cost of the reconstruction being huge, the population is waiting for government grants, loans or other funding. Chandra informed WFTO that during the past months the main work has consisted in the creation of temporary shelters, and that the real reconstruction has not started yet. “People are still demolishing their damaged houses and waiting for government new criteria of reconstruction” says Chandra.
Nepal is located in a high seismic activity and yet its population is not trained to react to such disasters. Chitra affirmed that counselling is needed not only on earthquake-related disasters, but also on other disasters that might occur. Despite the difficulties FTGN believes that the reconstruction can be an opportunity to increase the earthquake safety awareness in his country.
Medium- to long-term goals of FTGN:
1. Cash support for those who have lost their homes. In the first phase over 1.3 million Nepali Rupees have already been distributed to member organizations, who have identified the most needy and delivered the cash directly to producers and their families. The second phase of cash support will be continued after receiving reports of the assessment of the first phase.
2. Low-interest loans for FTGN members’ personnel
3. Earthquake & emergency preparedness
4. Structural safety for homes & workshops
5. Rebuilding fallen structures
6. Business incubation & development
7. Scholarships & other aid to victims’ families
8. Partnering with like-minded organizations to expand FTG's mission/reach
FTGN is a consortium of fair trading organizations that aim to improve the quality of life of low income groups of people through Fair Trade in Nepal. They provide support and training to their producers, as well as education programmes.
The immediate aid provided by this network was a great response to the emergency, but there is still a lot to be done. “Most of our Fair trade producers and their staff have lost their house or have damaged one” Chandra points out.
The restoration of more than 700 artisan homes rendered uninhabitable or completely destroyed by the earthquake lie ahead. And with the Monsoon rainy season that will continue until the end September, the process might start only after October.
by Elisa Agosti