UPDATE on Nepal Earthquake: How Can I Help?

Click here for our May 15 UPDATE on Nepal Earthquakes: How Can I Help?

This post updates our original guidance posted 3 days after the earthquake. It synthesizes information gathered from our network of nonprofits, NGOs, funding organizations, intermediaries, and colleagues in or with direct connections to Nepal, as well as those with expertise in disaster relief. Please see the bottom of the post for key sources used. We continue to monitor the situation in Nepal and will update our guidance as the situation evolves.

On April 25, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. The official death toll- expected to rise as more remote areas are reached- now exceeds 7,800. With the possibility of finding trapped survivors now gone, the Nepalese government has asked foreign search and rescue teams to leave the country.  The focus now is on immediate relief and short-term recovery, where the aim is to address the basic and urgent needs of survivors, including shelter and security for the millions displaced. In this post, we first describe the key needs on the ground and then provide a select list of nonprofits working in Nepal and positioned to address these needs.

What are key needs on the ground?

Shelter and Safety: The earthquake destroyed close to 300,000 homes, damaging over 200,000 more. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA) estimates the number of displaced people to be 2.8 million. Landslides, avalanches, and further aftershocks continue to generate fear and threaten further damage. Shelter-related supplies including tarpaulins, tents, blankets, repair tools, and other non-food items (NFIs), as well as their coordinated distribution, are needed.

Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH): According to UNOCHA, 4.2 million people are in need of WASH services. To date, over 340,000 people have been provided with clean water supply. However, remote areas continue to be difficult to reach, and there are concerns of water contamination due to the lack of sanitation.

Food and Nutrition: It is estimated that 3 million people are in need of food assistance, particularly those in the more remote and hardest hit areas of the country. To date, the World Food Programme (WFP) has distributed food for 300,000 people and is bringing in more helicopters and engaging multiple fleets of small trucks to get supplies distributed throughout the Kathmandu Valley where roads are poor or non-existent.  HEB (High Energy Biscuits), nutrition powders, and other food supplies are urgently needed.

Medical Care: As of today, there are over 17,000 injured survivors. There is also rising concern over the potential of measles given the number of people temporarily sheltered in close quarters, and the fact that 1 in 10 Nepalese children is not vaccinated. Cholera is also a concern given the threat of contaminated water supplies. Hospital and maternity tents are needed in all affected districts; orthopedic equipment and supplies are urgently needed in the Kathmandu Valley.

Special Needs of Vulnerable Populations: Women and children are particularly vulnerable in disasters. In Nepal, concerns include the loss of livelihoods for the over 300,000 female-headed households in the affected districts, human trafficking across the porous border with India, and pregnancy-related issues that can’t be addressed as hospitals are overwhelmed caring for survivors. Additionally, almost 1 million children can’t return to school and won’t have access to education as thousands of classrooms were destroyed.  In the immediate period following emergencies, the physical safety and psychological health of children are paramount.

How can you address these needs? 

Effective disaster response requires coordinated action with the government and the contributions of two types of NGOs/nonprofits: 1) large, international NGO’s with global supply chains and expertise from previous disasters, and 2) local, often smaller, organizations who have detailed local knowledge and networks that position them to provide help faster, especially to some of the more vulnerable populations. Below is a select list of both kinds of organizations to consider supporting. All are active on the ground in Nepal and bring the kind of capacity that is needed now.

Oxfam is providing clean water and sanitation facilities to survivors in camps.  Oxfam had already been in Nepal working on disaster preparedness when the earthquake hit

World Food Programme is the world’s largest anti-hunger NGO/nonprofit. They report having reached some of the hardest-hit and more remote mountain villages throughout Kathmandu Valley with food supplies.

Medecins San Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders brings experience and expertise providing medical care in some of the most challenging regions of the world, including disaster and conflict zones.  Its teams have established mobile clinics and field hospitals in Nepal.

International Medical Corps  was one of the first responders on the ground in Nepal providing emergency medical care. In addition, they report working with the Nepalese government to address the threat of cholera and other communicable diseases.

The Global Fund for Women is a US-based foundation that funds local, women-led groups around the world. Their framework for disaster relief outlines the particular vulnerabilities of women post-disaster, and they have several longtime grantee-partners in Nepal and India that are focused on addressing the particular challenges faced by women and girls.

Save the Children has been working In Nepal since 1976 and is focused on ensuring the physical and psychological health, education, and safety of affected children.

World Vision has been working in Nepal for over 10 years and during this immediate relief phase has targeted 100,000 in the worst-affected areas, and has distributed supplies that were pre-positioned in Nepal, including more than 2,000 tarpaulins, 600 blankets, and 400 corrugated roofing sheets.

Katmandu Living Labs is part of a global crowd-sourcing effort to accurately map Nepal since the earthquake.  They also have an online platform for people to report where they are and what they need. Such information is critical to effective coordination of disaster response.

Nepal Red Cross Society has mobilized volunteers to deliver tarpaulins, hygiene kits, blankets and other emergency shelter supplies to earthquake affected populations across 51 districts in Nepal.

Friends Service Council Nepal has over 20 years of experience in disaster risk management and has been coordinating with other agencies to mobilize volunteers in delivering food and other needed emergency supplies.

Maiti Nepal has been working in Nepal for over 20 years working to protect Nepali girls and women from domestic violence, human trafficking, child labor and other forms of exploitation.  The organization has increased its monitoring operations on the border with India and has deployed teams to inspect camps and shelters to ensure that women and children are living in a safe environment.

Finally, although giving in disaster situations tends to decline after the first few weeks, often funders can have the biggest impact by paying attention long after the initial headlines fade.  With this in mind, several organizations, including the Center for Disaster PhilanthropyGeneva Global, and Global Giving have set up pooled funds, which can channel funds to local grantees once medium and longer term needs have become clearer.

Sources: May 6, 2015 presentation by Lisa Hilmi (Center for Global Women’s Health Research), direct communication with Accountability Lab, and our synthesis of the following websites including Humanitarian Data Exchange, Humanitarian Response, The Center for Disaster Philanthropy, The Center for International Disaster Information, Disaster Accountability Project, United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, and the United Nations Nepal Information Platform.