Oxfam reaching Nepal’s most isolated in a race against the monsoon

One month since the first earthquake hit Nepal, Oxfam is working with mountain guides and porters to deliver life saving aid to the most remote communities before the imminent monsoon hits the country.

Mountain guides and porters are assisting Oxfam with its relief delivery in the Gorkha district, one of the worst hit by the earthquake, where up to 90% of the homes have been destroyed and communities have been cut off by landslides.

On Sunday 17th May the first team of porters and mountain guides trekked from devastated Barpak, the epicenter of the first earthquake, for over four hours to reach Laprak, a hamlet 2700m above sea level. They were carrying tarpaulins and hygiene kits - the equivalent of almost 2.5 tons of aid materials - to displaced people. Oxfam is now planning similar activities to reach other isolated communities as soon as possible, since the monsoon could hit anytime in the next four weeks.

Orla Murphy, head of Oxfam Nepal earthquake response, said: “We have called upon the knowledge and experience of Nepal’s famous mountain guides to make sure the aid gets through to those who need it the most. Not only is this an effective way to deliver aid, it also provides work for porters who cannot find work as easily as they did prior to the disaster.

"We must do everything we can to provide people with the assistance they need before the monsoon hits. There is no time to waste."

In the last month two large earthquakes and more than 100 aftershocks have devastated Nepal, killing over 8,600 people and leaving millions affected.   

So far Oxfam has reached over 150,000 people in 7 of the worst hit districts of Nepal, providing clean water, emergency shelter and food.

Murphy added: “Thanks to our long standing partners in Nepal, we were able to deliver relief to people immediately after the first earthquake. We have not stopped since, despite the second earthquake and the strong aftershocks”.

Oxfam has trucked clean water to over 30,000 people in Kathmandu valley, and distributed enough tarpaulins for over 50,000 people across Gorkha, Dhading, Nuwakot and Sindhupalchok. In Nuwakot Oxfam has also delivered food baskets, with rice, lentils and oil rations for two weeks for over 25,000 people.

Murphy continued: “With Nepal expected to receive 80 percent of its annual rainfall over the three-month monsoon period, the top priority for Oxfam is to make sure people have safe shelter. We have also distributed rice seeds to farmers who need to plant a new crop before the rains start. Two out of three people in Nepal rely on small scale farming for a living. Many of them have lost their loved ones in the earthquake, but also their homes, reserve crops and their seeds. If we don’t act quickly, they risk losing next year’s crop too- and becoming dependent on aid”.

“We need to keep providing immediate emergency relief to people, and at the same time start supporting them towards long term recovery; people need to be able to start rebuilding their lives.”

Oxfam aims to reach up to 400,000 people by the time the monsoon sets in. Over the next three years, Oxfam is planning to deliver a $56m relief and recovery program in Nepal- so far it has raised over $40m largely through the generosity of publics around the world.

Notes to editors

  • Oxfam is working across camps in Kathmandu Valley as well as in rural districts: Nuwakot, Sindhupalchok, Dhading and Gorkha;
  • Oxfam aims  to reach 400,000 by the time the monsoon hits;
  • Last week Oxfam started distributing seeds to farmers in Sindhupalchok, and is planning on extending the distribution to Dhading and Nuwakot in the next two weeks;
  • On Saturday 25th April, Nepal was struck by a 7.8 magnitude earthquake; this was followed by another 7.3 magnitude earthquake just over a fortnight later; between the two earthquakes there were over 100 aftershocks up to 6.7 magnitude;
  • 8631 lives were lost and 17,838 were injured- the figures keep rising every day.

Contact information

For interviews in Nepal please contact Serena Tramonti on stramonti@oxfam.org.uk; on Skype on serena.tramonti; on mobile in Nepal:+977 9860481663

For updates, please follow @Oxfam.