Nepal Earthquake: One Year Later
Today marks one year since a massive earthquake struck Nepal and its surrounding areas. The quake killed thousands of people, and millions others were displaced. It was a devastating moment in Nepal’s history.
Despite $4.1 billion of international aid and promises by the government to rebuild, very little rebuilding has been done. Nepal survived, but it is now a country in recovery.
Flashback to one year ago….
It was a calm, ordinary Saturday on 25 April 2015, when suddenly a powerful 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal and its surrounding areas. The Nepal Earthquake — known as the Gorkha earthquake — was the worst earthquake in Nepal in 80 years, making it the deadliest natural disaster ever recorded in the history of Nepal, and strong enough to be felt across parts of India, Bangladesh, Tibet, and Pakistan.
The massive quake unleashed enough seismic force to knock houses and buildings down into piles of bricks, opened wide cracks on streets and walls, and flattened some of the city’s historic center, including four of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites. Around 8,500 people lost their lives, another 21,000 were injured, and 3.5 million made homeless.
It didn’t stop there. There have been at least 120 aftershocks in total, happening almost every day after the first earthquake with a second powerful earthquake striking Nepal on 12 May 2015, just two weeks after the first. The damage was so devastating and the fear of more shocks was so real that people began to sleep in the open, with only a hastily build shelter shielding them from the elements. These shelters were no match for the monsoon rains that followed the quake.
The earthquakes and the monsoon rain all but destroyed Nepal’s infrastructure. Survivors faced days and nights without electricity or clean water and whatever food they had before the quake was growing shorter and shorter day by day.
The Nepalese were growing frustrated. Their strength grew weaker day by day. Hope turned into anguish. We knew that we had to do something to bring relief and make their lives easier. We needed to help them gain their sense of security and comfort back. We wanted to give light and hope back to them.
We partnered with our friends on the ground, Empower Generation to connect desperately needed solar lights and water filters with earthquake survivors in 10 affected municipalities.
Clean, bright light for all
The solar lights were given to families free after Empower Generation received permission from the local district officials.
These lights were well received by the families our local partner Empower Generation recalls meeting five families staying in one tent on the bank of the Betrawati River in the Nuwakot District.
“The people we met during the distribution are saying that rice can be eaten in a day and a tarp is not useful after this is over, but a solar light will last them for years to come and it has and will greatly improve their lives,” said Empower Generation Co-Founder and Executive Director, Anya Cherneff.
A health officer in Gorsang, Nuwakot, said that the solar light was helpful in transporting the sick and injured into the hospital at night.
“It makes night trips easier. Before, we had to use torches or candles to visit sick people. Now we feel easier to travel at night. It also means we can keep helping sick people when our health posts are overloaded. It’s non breakable and easy to charge with no extra cost,” says Shanta Batuwal.
For these families and many others, the solar lights meant they had a safe alternative to candles and kerosene lanterns — this is a huge risk considering families crowded tents into fires. The solar lights helped them to cook, read at night and provided a sense of security in the darkness and chaos that followed the earthquake. The portability of the solar light meant women felt safer when going to the toilet or checking on livestock at night.
The solar lights provided families with more than just safety and security, they provided them with a way to communicate. The solar lights distributed was the d.light S300 which has the ability to charge mobile phones. With a fully charged mobile phone families could communicate and learn the fate of friends and family, bringing closure or relief.
The Struggle for Water
After the earthquake, clean water became scarce with water treatment facilities around Kathmandu damaged or destroyed.
Together with our local partner, Kopernik connected water filters with families in the Bagmati zone of Kathmandu. As a part of this program Kopernik distributed water filters to 190 schools, providing clean drinking water to the over 6400 students.
Our partner Empower Generation met Hom Prasad, a board member at the primary school in Ratmate district. He was very enthusiastic about the water filter. He said that he had seen many water filters, but nothing like the ones we distributed!
“I have seen many filters but it is new for me. It is working well and we felt safer when we started to use it. We can drink clean water without germs and one of the most important things is we can drink clean water. My wife told me the filter is easy to clean every day and you can find out if the water is clean or not. I am also a board member at the school so I have suggested the principal buy more filters like this for school families.”
Looking back, we were greatly honoured to be able to stand with the Kingdom of Nepal and its people to help them get back on their feet with clean water and reliable light. We admire how incredibly resilient these survivors are as they continue to persevere in rebuilding their nation.
It’s a long road to recovery for earthquake-devastated villages in Nepal, but there is a light that never goes out.
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Kopernik connects simple, life-changing technologies to the last mile communities to reduce poverty. Based in Bali, we serve the most remote parts of the developing world.