Two years after the earthquakes that ravaged Nepal, thousands of children are still facing life threatening malnutrition and have little or no education
In April and May 2015 two enormous earthquakes hit Nepal creating a humanitarian crisis on an unprecedented scale:- over 9,000 people died with more than 22,300 left injured. Nearly 900,000 homes were destroyed or left uninhabitable, leaving 3.5 million people homeless and 52,000 classrooms were obliterated, leaving more than 1 million children out of education.
However, two years on there are still thousands of children without schools. There is so much still to be done and many other INGOs have down scaled their operations. Schools are housed in temporary shelters. The reconstruction efforts are delayed and inadequate. The National Reconstruction Authority reports that only a third of the required budget for overall reconstruction after the quake has been ensured. Much of rural Nepal still needs to be rebuilt. In addition, rebuilding needs to be done in an earthquake resilient way, as future earthquakes cannot be ruled out in this seismically active region.
Nepal Youth Foundation continues to build schools. 210 classrooms are planned this year alone. ‘The hallmarks of Nepal Youth Foundation’s programs are that they are highly cost effective, qualitative and swiftly implemented, and they are truly replicable for the government and other organisations as well’ says Mr Krishna Prasad Subedi, Unit Head, District Project Implementation Unit, Sindhupalchowk district, Nepal.
Nepal Youth Foundation (NYF) utilised their 25 years of experience working in Nepal to provide disaster relief to the most affected communities immediately following the earthquake. They provided emergency relief to the survivors, delivering food and medical supplies in the immediate aftermath. NYF further provided temporary shelter solutions to act as homes and classrooms, setup Community Nutrition Kitchens, Day Care Centres and Transit Homes for lone and vulnerable children and gave hospital and psychological support in disaster affected communities.
Malnutrition among the country’s poorest children is still the biggest challenge – which is why charities like the Nepal Youth Foundation believe feeding children as part of their Early Childhood Development (ECD) programmes is essential.
Nepal Youth Foundation’s President Som Paneru is gravely concerned about the many challenges ahead for the young children of Nepal following the earthquakes. He has called for more global help to save children from death due to malnutrition.
Som Paneru said: “Nepal’s children need urgent intervention to save them from death and disability due to malnutrition. If we intervene in children’s early education to improve the low level of learning achievement we improve children’s overall future prospects.” He goes on to add “ECD has been affected badly from the 2015 earthquake. The ECD centres were damaged and children couldn’t return due to the threat of another quake. Many educational materials were buried and school premises were very risky. Young children were disturbed psychologically. Things were in chaos both at home and at school and the children lacked a routine. Around 280,000 were affected by the earthquake. More than a million children had been attending an ECD programme at that time”.
Whilst many NGOs were mobilised into immediate action to help desperate communities, much of the aid work was ill conceived and inappropriate. Many buildings have been rebuilt without meeting government guidelines on safety, using expensive imported materials. Many aid packages that were distributed were wholly inappropriate for the region – locals drank hand sanitiser and had no use for make up. Millions of aid donations have been wasted. Not by NYF UK though: of every £1 donated 85p goes directly to projects in Nepal, compared to some of the large INGOs who spend just 60p in every pound on charitable programmes.
Finally Som Paneru adds “We have already achieved so much and helped so many but there is much more to be done. Your donations are vital to continuing our work in the worse hit areas, and we don’t waste a penny.”