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Earthquake Relief – Meeting Immediate Needs

Two major earthquakes – measuring 7.8 and 7.3 in magnitude – hit Nepal within 3 weeks of each other, effecting more than 8 million people. The first was the worst quake to strike the region in more than 80 years, killing thousands and injuring thousands more. This has caused massive destruction to houses, productive assets, business and basic infrastructure in rural villages. The disaster has disproportionally affected poorer residents who lived in mud and stone houses that crumbled and are in hard-to-reach areas of mountainous terrain that may be cut off during the monsoon by flooding and landslides. In addition to the physical damage caused by the earthquakes, levels of fear, anger, frustration and hopelessness among the affected population are rising in the face of a system that is struggling to meet immediate and medium-term needs.

Mercy Corps' core approach to response and recovery programming is to meet those immediate needs and help communities rebuild their lives in a manner that reduces their vulnerability to future shocks and stresses. Through our initial emergency response phase we will have reached 23,500 households with consolidated non-food relief items (NFRI) and cash transfers in the worst affected communities.

Beneficiary story



Sajita Tamang Holds her one-year-old daughter, Satitcha.

Sajita's family home in Kavre District was almost completely destroyed in the earthquake along with most of their belongings. Her family of five is currently living under a tarp and her family is directly exposed to the elements. They are unable to begin rebuilding until after the monsoon season when they can clear the debris and the weather is dry. The monsoon is expected to end in October or November, though this too remains an area of uncertainty as the season has grown increasingly unpredictable over the past few years. "It will take us a month and a half to rebuild the house," she says. "We will be relieved when it's finished."

With DFID support, Sajita received unconditional cash and a consolidated NFRI kit from Mercy Corps, which is made up of kitchen items including stainless steel cookware; hygiene materials like soap, towels and water purification tablets; and shelter items including tarpaulins, blankets, treated mosquito nets and a solar lamp.

"With the money, we will buy dal, spices and rice," she explains. "The tarpaulins and blankets will be the most useful to keep us dry. It is wet and the two small children have sickness."



Masini Tamang outside a cash distribution
in Kavre.

Most households say they will weather the monsoon before beginning to rebuild their homes, but plans for financing the project vary by family. We spoke with Masini, a small-business owner, at a cash transfer in Kavre about her plans for rebuilding after the earthquake. Masini's husband raises buffalo and since their home was destroyed during the earthquake, they have been sharing a temporary shelter with their livestock.

"I was quite excited to hear we were going to receive this cash," she beams. Masini and her husband were some of the first to arrive at the distribution that morning. "If we only buy food with this money, it is not sustainable for us. I want to expand into goat farming and use the money from the goat business to build a new house," she explains. "I'm excited and happy to be growing my business."

As emergency distributions near completion, Mercy Corps Nepal is transitioning to recovery work that supports households as they rebuild their lives and their communities through an integrated market systems development and disaster risk reduction approach in our four primary districts: Kavre, Sindhupalchowk, Dolakha and Nuwakot. Our programming will encourage investment by supporting financial institutions and other financial service providers back to pre-earthquake operating levels and to expand to previously unreached or under-served areas. Mercy Corps will ensure that our response and recovery approach enables long-term resilience against current and future shocks and stresses, by not only promoting access to key resources and livelihood strategies that enable communities to prepare for and mitigate future disasters, but by consciously addressing the social exclusion and weak governance structures that underscore vulnerability in Nepal.



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