By Sarah Gillam
Six months on from the Nepal earthquake, relief efforts are being hampered by a severe fuel crisis, leaving more than 400,000 people without adequate shelter and supplies as winter approaches.
HelpAge International has provided shelter kits, cash and health care to some of the neediest older people in the worst hit areas but fuel shortages are slowing down relief efforts.
Further funds still needed
On 25 April, the quake left 9,000 dead and more than 23,000 injured. In the UK, the Disaster Emergency committee (DEC) raised more than £85 million but further funds are still needed. 8.6% of the population of Nepal is 60 or over.
In the immediate aftermath, HelpAge International provided cash to over 10,000 older people, along with basic health services, including eye care, to 5,000 older people in remote, hard to access areas of Kavrepalchuk, Nuwakot, Kathmandu and Bhaktapur districts.
At least 2,500 adults over the age of 45 received reading glasses and 32 staff have been trained to provide psychosocial counselling to 450 traumatised older people.
Rebuilding homes and livelihoods
Kishan Maharjan, age 80, from Lalitpur, who received US$75 cash, said: “I bought windows and doors to re-build my house which was totally damaged.”
Maila Tamang, age 71, from Bhaktapur, said: “I am very grateful for the cash because I lost my seven goats. I managed to buy three goats.”
Shelter kits have also been distributed to 1,300 older people in Sindhupalchowk and Nuwakot, working with local partners the Community Self-Reliance Centre.
“We are targeting families where at least one member of the household is 60 or over, and the homes are totally or partially damaged, making them structurally unstable,” said Ciara O’Malley, Humanitarian Programme Coordinator with HelpAge International.
While the initial epicentre of the earthquake was in Gorkha district, the highest magnitude aftershock (6.7) took place in Sindhupalchowk, a mountainous and densely populated hilly district west of Kathmandu.
Shelter kits being provided consist of 12 sheets of corrugated iron, a toolkit of nails, a claw hammer, handsaw and door lock set plus 15,000 rupees to help assemble it.
HelpAge is delivering the shelter kits by pick-up trucks directly to hill villages. They’re expected to reach 3,000 households by the end of the programme.
Recovery will take time
Khemraj Upadhyaya, Country Director for HelpAge International in Nepal said he was grateful for the support received from donors but more was needed.
“Older people are often overlooked in emergency situations so it is heartening to be able to assist my older fellow countrymen in an effective a way as possible. The recovery process is going to take us a long time here, so please continue to give your support.”
How you can help
to support our ongoing work with older survivors of the Nepal earthquake.
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