Earthquakes in Nepal 2015 | ActionAid UK

Earthquakes in Nepal 2015

In April and May 2015 two devastating earthquakes struck Nepal, killing 9,000 people and leaving hundreds of thousands of survivors homeless.

Having worked in Nepal for over 30 years, since 1982, ActionAid Nepal staff were able to respond straight away through our networks on the ground, and get life-saving help to the most vulnerable people.

As of April 2018, ActionAid has reached more than 150,000 people with a range of support: from tools to rebuild homes to business skills to help people earn an income again.

By prioritising women’s leadership and protection at every stage of our response and forming women’s distribution committees we ensured that women’s specific needs were met and that they play an active and valued part in rebuilding their communities.

Nepal earthquakes: facts and figures

On Saturday 25th April 2015, an earthquake of 7.8 magnitude struck the historic district of Gorkha, about 76 km northwest of Kathmandu. It was the worst natural disaster to hit the country in 80 years, since the Nepal–Bihar earthquake in 1934.

On the morning of Tuesday 12th May, a second earthquake with a magnitude of 7.3 struck 68 km west of the town of Namche Bazaar, near Mount Everest.

What was the scale of the damage?

  • Nearly 9,000 people lost their lives and a further 23,000 were injured.
  • Over 600,000 homes were destroyed and over 285,000 were partially damaged, forcing people to live out in the open or in makeshift shelters.
  • An estimated eight million people were affected, almost one-third of the population of Nepal.
  • The earthquakes also damaged nearly 30,000 classrooms in 8,304 schools and nearly 1,000 health centres.

 

Nepal Earthquake 2015

Nine-year-old Rupak looks on as his relatives try to excavate their belongings from their collapsed house in the ruined village of Chapagaon, Lalitpur District, on 1 May 2015.

Photo: Prashanth Vishwanathan/ActionAid

What was ActionAid’s response?

As of April 2018, three years since the earthquakes, ActionAid Nepal has reached more than 150,000 people across six counties – Kathmandu Valley, Sindupalchowk, Rasuwa, Kavre, Dolakha and Makwanpur – through our emergency response programme and ongoing community-led reconstruction programme.

Our existing relationships with local partners and communities meant we could respond quickly and reach some of the worst hit and hardest to reach areas up in the mountains.

This response was possible thanks to the generosity of many individual supporters, as well as the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC), and the Alborada Trust.

Where we delivered aid

 
  • red
    25th April earthquake
  • orange
    12th May earthquake

 

Initial emergency response (Apr 2015 — Nov 2015)

When the earthquake struck, ActionAid Nepal immediately responded supporting more than 118,000 people affected by the disaster with immediate relief. For example:

  • We gave food support to over 18,500 families.
  • We provided emergency shelter to 7,000 families, until more permanent homes could be built.
  • We distributed over 7,000 dignity kits to women, containing essential items like underwear, soap and sanitary pads.
  • We set up 50 temporary learning centres and gave education kits to 9,580 children to help them keep learning.
  • We set up 23 women-friendly spaces – providing over 6,600 women with a safe place to get training, support, and discuss changes they want to see in their community.
  • We provided cash for work schemes to over 6,700 households.

 

Community-led recovery programme (Nov 2015 — Apr 2018)

Following our initial response, ActionAid focussed on offering training and support to help the most vulnerable people gain access to land to rebuild their homes, and gain the skills they need to set up small businesses and earn a living again. For example:

  • We are offering psychosocial care to support women suffering from domestic violence and other issues.
  • We have trained 89 women from affected communities in leadership development.
  • We have supported 592 people to set up or strengthen collective small businesses, such as poultry, cardamom and vegetable farming.
  • We have trained 149 people in micro-enterprise and business plan development.
  • We have provided vocational training to 402 women and other marginalised groups to help them earn a living.

Our long-term support ensures that communites are able to build back stronger for the future. 

How did ActionAid’s response promote women’s leadership?

When a disaster strikes, women are the worst affected. In many countries women are not included in decisions that affect them, making it easy for women’s specific needs to be neglected. That’s why ActionAid uses emergencies as a key opportunity to promote women’s leadership and challenge traditional power dynamics. As part of our response to the Nepal earthquakes we took the following actions: 

  • We supported women from affected areas to form distribution committees and lead the relief distributions – e.g. they collected all the information, coordinated and monitored our distributions. These same groups are now women’s reconstruction committees and are very active in the recovery programme.
  • We ran workshops with women on leadership in the reconstruction work, equipping them to take a lead role.
  • We ran discussion groups with women to ensure their needs were incorporated into reconstruction plans for their villages.

By offering women a safe place to have discussions and enabling them to become leaders, we made sure that women are at the heart of rebuilding their communities. This means their needs will be met by the new plans for their villages, and that they develop skills and confidence to take a more active role in society going forward.

You may also be interested in…

Find out more about why we put women at the heart of all emergency responses.

Our Emergency Action Fund ensures we are always ready to respond to emergencies.

Read updates about our latest emergency response work on our blog.

Footnotes

Page updated 17 August 2018