One Year On: 3 Million People still Without Permanent Shelter

Friday 29 April 2016

Twelve months on since the Nepal earthquakes, homeless families are still living in temporary shelters covered by tarpaulins, under bridges and in unsafe buildings as 600,000 households remain without permanent shelter, Save the Children says.

Alongside this continuing challenge, the aid agency today launches a new report revealing that many of the most marginalized and vulnerable communities missed out on aid like cash distributions during the critical emergency response phase of the relief effort.

“Though millions of people in Nepal have been reached with vital healthcare, water and hygiene support, food, temporary shelter and education, the response could have been better in some areas,” Save the Children Country Director, Delailah Borja, said.

“No formal rebuilding program has commenced in the past 12 months, and that’s in part due to the sheer scale of the disaster and the massive logistical challenges in an extremely mountainous region.

“Millions of families are still living in the temporary shelter supplied by aid agencies months ago, having already braved a very cold winter and are now facing the prospect of another monsoon season, which will start in June.

“Save the Children has been preparing its shelter program for months now, which includes training 6,000 masons in safe rebuilding practices and preparing cash grants for 6,000 households– a value of 12 million dollars - that will allow vulnerable households to commence  rebuilding. When we are given the green light, we will be ready to go.”

Save the Children’s report, “Did the humanitarian response to the Nepal earthquake ensure no one was left behind?” analysed the effectiveness of the emergency response, in particular the targeting and distribution of aid to the most vulnerable groups in Nepal.

A number of key lessons learned were identified, including the local governments request to use ‘blanket’ rather than targeted distributions of aid, poor communication with isolated communities and elderly or disabled people, and a lack of thorough assessment to work out which families were most in need. 

“For example, cash handouts were payable only to the owner of the house, meaning those who were renting or living in a home registered to somebody else didn’t get the money they so desperately needed and were entitled to,” Ms Borja said.

Ms Borja said the mountainous terrain of Nepal, poor conditions of roads and fuel shortages added to the difficulty in reaching the most isolated and vulnerable communities. Despite these challenges Save the Children has reached over 580,000 earthquake survivors so far, and continues to work on the ground offering much needed support where it can.

“Getting out to many of the more remote and often badly affected areas was almost impossible with roads cut off from landslides, while many villages were only accessible by foot,” she said.

“A number of aid agencies including Save the Children used helicopters to deliver aid, but even then it could only be to a central point where landing was possible, meaning those affected still needed to walk – often for several hours – to that central point to get the aid they had been allocated.

“The sheer scale of the disaster, with 8 million people affected, is enormous – Nepal hasn’t faced a challenge like this in decades.”