Race to reach Nepal earthquake survivors before monsoon rains

Published: 6th May 2015

Survivors of Nepal's massive earthquake are in a race against time to secure shelter and adequate sanitation before the monsoon rains begin in early June.

Tens of thousands of people have seen their homes flattened or damaged to such an extent that it is not safe for them to return.

Oxfam has been working with the government of Nepal and partners to provide shelter, toilets and clean water in seven of the worst-affected districts. All relief efforts must be stepped up immediately to reach vulnerable people before the rains set in.

There is a danger of waterborne diseases in Nepal in the coming months. In rural areas, a shortage of toilets is forcing many people to have to defecate in the open. Damage to water pipes means that some people are resorting to drinking untreated water.

Andy Bastable, Oxfam GB's head of water and sanitation, said "There is a huge risk of waterborne disease in Nepal - a country where cholera is already endemic. Oxfam has been quick to deliver aid to desperate local communities and is building toilets and delivering clean water and hygiene kits to thousands of people."

There is also a chronic lack of adequate housing. The 7.8-magnitude earthquake and a series of powerful aftershocks damaged up to 90% of the houses in some areas. Families are living under tarpaulins and materials salvaged from the rubble.

Cecilia Keizer, Oxfam country director in Nepal said "The scale of this disaster is only now becoming apparent. There were so many people already suffering before the earthquake and I am particularly concerned about single women, the elderly and lower-caste members of society in areas that can only be reached by foot."

Oxfam has announced relief plans to reach 430,000 people as quickly as possible with a $32 million program, focusing largely on water and sanitation work. In the first week since the earthquake it has secured around $22 million mainly from the generosity of publics around the world but desperately needs more funds to continue this vital work and with the rainy season just around the corner, there is no time to waste. Nepal is one of the world's poorest countries and it is not equipped to deal with this crisis alone.

Oxfam branches have set up national appeals for the public to donate to the Nepal relief effort, in theUSAustraliaBelgiumCanadaFranceGermanyGreat BritainHong Kong and MacauIrelandItalyMexicoSpainNew ZealandQuebecIndiaKorea (fundraising office), the Netherlands and Sweden (fundraising office). Outside of these countries, the public can donate via oxfam.org. Ibis, an Oxfam observer (Denmark), has also launched an appeal asking for donations for Oxfam’s emergency work in Nepal.

There is a huge risk of waterborne disease in Nepal - a country where cholera is already endemic.
Andy Bastable
Oxfam's head of water and sanitation

Notes to editors

Photographs of Oxfam's water and sanitation work can be accessed here:

Oxfam initially aims to help 430,000 people affected by the earthquake in Nepal. We are working in camps for displaced people across the Kathmandu Valley as well as in four rural districts: Nuwakot, Sindhupalchok, Dhading and Gorkha.

We have flown in almost 20 tonnes of vital aid supplies to Kathmandu international airport and trucked in more to remote villages in the Gorkha region. We have reached more  than 60,000 people so far with clean water supplies, hygiene kits, temporary loos and shelter.

Oxfam’s public appeals around the world have so far generously raised  $22 million. Oxfam is also part of major joint humanitarian appeals in Belgium, UK, Canada and Holland; appeal totals are still to been confirmed from those countries so are not included yet in Oxfam's figures.

On Saturday 25th April, Nepal was struck by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. This was followed by more than 100 aftershocks up to a magnitude of 6.7. The Government of Nepal has declared a state of emergency and appealed for international humanitarian support.

More than 7,000 people have died and over 14,000 were injured as a result of the earthquake, according to Nepal’s Ministry of Home Affairs. The Government estimates that eight million people have been affected, including 2.8 million people displaced.

Oxfam's Nepal earthquake appeal


Contact information

In Nepal, Lisa Rutherford +44 7917 791836 lrutherford@oxfam.org.uk
In UK, Media Unit Hotline on +44 (0)1865 472498 or email media.unit@oxfam.org.uk
In Oxfam International (UK), Dannielle Taaffe on +44-7917-110-06 or dannielle.taaffe@oxfaminternational.org
In India, Gunjan Jain - Mobile+91-9811777387 - gunjan@oxfamindia.org
In Australia, Angus Hohenboken - Mobile: +61 428367318 - angush@oxfam.org.au
In the US, Vanessa Parra - Mobile +1 202 476 0093 - vparra@oxfamamerica.org

For updates, please follow @Oxfam.