Concern reaches deep into Nepal quake zone

May 1, 2015
Originally published in: Irish Echo
Written by Ray O’Hanlon

Concern reaches deep into Nepal quake zone

Even without a massive earthquake, Nepal presents formidable challenges to those who want to travel to its remoter towns and villages.
A topographical map quickly shows why.

Though a single country, Nepal is comprised of a multitude of valleys hemmed in by mountains.
And these mountains are not necessarily the High Himalayas.
What pass for the foothills of the Himalayas are themselves formidable ranges.

So much so that if you wanted to select a country in the world where you would absolutely not want a major earthquake to happen, Nepal would be right at the very top of the list.

A few days ago such an earthquake happened.

It was a monster and large swathes of Nepal have been devastated.

Against this chaotic backdrop, the international and Irish-founded humanitarian organization, Concern Worldwide, is preparing to distribute an initial package of shelter and relief supplies to 10,000 families in four of the ten hardest-hit districts following the 7.8-magnitude earthquake that hit the country on April 25.

Concern has partnered with two national organizations to carry out the distributions in Sindulpalchowk, Dolakha, Ramecchap, and Gorkha districts.

“We are focusing on reaching vulnerable and isolated communities that are yet to receive assistance and our top priority will be to give people shelter as well as hygiene items, blankets, water purification tablets, and other relief items,” says Ros O’Sullivan of Concern Worldwide’s Emergency Response Team who is now in Kathmandu.

“We are sending prepositioned emergency supplies from Mumbai and Delhi and are working with local partner organizations to purchase additional materials,” O’Sullivan said.

According to Concern, which has sent personnel to Nepal from both Ireland and its New York office, getting materials into the country and around the affected districts will be extremely challenging, as air traffic at the airport remains congested and road travel can take days.

Concern said it will be working with two local organizations that have deep experience and networks in these areas so that items can get out as quickly as possible.

“Damaged infrastructure and roads, rubble, and landslides will make reaching mountainous and more rural communities extremely difficult. Even before the earthquake, land density in Nepal was one of the poorest in South Asia, with over one-third of people living in areas that are four hours away from an all-weather road,” said Concern in a statement.

The earthquake, the worst the country has seen in 80 years, affected 39 districts. An estimated three million Nepalese are displaced, though the true scale of the disaster is still unknown. Priority needs currently include shelter, clean water, food, and medicine. Rain is forecast in the coming days, underscoring the need for emergency shelter like tents and tarpaulins.

Concern Worldwide worked in Nepal from 2006 to 2010, focusing on livelihoods, water, sanitation and nutrition. The organization has been an early responder in a number of earthquakes in the region and globally, including the 2005 Pakistan earthquake, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake.