It has been almost seven nights that the people of Jajarkot have witnessed the destruction of their homes, lost their loved ones, and relied on organizational support and government efforts to restore their livelihoods. While aftershocks shake the region, the spirit for relief and rebuilding is strong.
The magnitude 6.4 earthquake on 3rd November caused significant damage to human lives and properties in Western Nepal, especially in Jajarkot and Rukum West, and took the lives of 153 people. Current challenges highlight the importance of a rapid and effective response to meet the immediate and long-term needs of the affected communities, and it goes beyond food, supplies, and rehabilitation. There are societal and healthcare factors that can add to the trauma the local communities face, which requires proper organizational standing to address and prevent.
Natural disasters tend to impact marginalized populations disproportionately, owing to socio-economic conditions. Districts such as Jajarkot and Rukum East, which perform poorly on the multi-dimensional poverty index struggle more when rebuilding. With access to resources to build sturdier homes, ration or afford more food supplies, access to better healthcare, and many more reasons, the process of rehabilitation needs to be focused on those who suffer the most from these incidents. After the 2015 earthquake, there were more reports of gender and sexual violence in severely hit and crisis-hit districts after the earthquake.
CARE Nepal, which was at the forefront of its earthquake emergency response during the 2015 Nepal earthquake, is in Jajarkot to help and provide sustainable solutions that could perhaps be overlooked during such crucial times. In the 2015 earthquake, half of the households (51.5%) reported not having any food on the evening of 25 April. The reduced food intake was higher for residents of severely hit and rural areas, for households headed by young people and other hill Janajatis and Dalits. While rebuilding physical infrastructure is important, the psychosocial and other needs of the people impacted by the Jajarkot earthquake should not be overlooked.
“We also need to take into account the likelihood of gender-based violence (GBV) as well as an outbreak of communicable diseases, cold-related ailments, and waterborne diseases in the coming days due to the onset of winter and damaged infrastructures, including latrines, while designing our long-term response efforts,” says CARE Nepal Country Director Mona Sherpa.
In the April 2015 earthquake, CARE Nepal’s funding for the earthquake emergency response, which reached upwards of 196000 people, complemented recovery strategies, targeting each of the five sectors including Shelter, Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH), Gender Based Violence (GBV), Sexual Reproductive and Maternal Health (SRMH). According to data published after the 2015 earthquake, Female respondents strongly reported the difficult situation they had faced after the earthquake, female respondents stated that they had problems during menstruation (32.3%) and while changing clothes (34.6%).
The resourceful solutions of experienced organizations with a focus on strategic impact in the wake of natural disasters have proven to be much needed. To closely monitor and assess the developing situation in the affected regions, the NGO Federation is actively coordinating with the District Disaster Management Committee (DDMC), Security Forces, local authorities, Mayors, Information Officers, and the Red Cross.