This week, Jayjeev, Executive Director of COMMITTED, along with another COMMITTED staff and two volunteers paid a visit to Thangpalkot. The following is a report he produced after returning to Kathmandu describing what the group saw and did during the visit. (This is also published on Facebook here (p1) and here (p2).)
May 8, 2015
COMMITTED Executive Director Jayjeev Hada, staff member Sobha Khadka, and volunteers (Sieun Alice Park, Ashmita Khanal), visited the deepest parts of Sindhupalchow from May 6 onwards-Bhotang, Thangpalkot, and Thangpaldhaap. The reported devastation sadly is true and perhaps much more. Being physically present also assisted in understanding the scene on the ground beyond the eye’s reach. As reported, there are only a handful of homes worth mentioning as habitable. The earthquake has pushed these communities a few decades back, surely. All schools have been severely affected to a point where the school managers are themselves traumatized and are seeking direction to get the schools back in operation. During the visit, we were able to provide relief material as well as assess their needs.
There are many road fissures in the mountains. Although roads have opened up for now, the onset of the monsoon will surely bring in a set of new problems, especially with the supply of food and transferring critical health patients to major hospitals outside the area. In addition, many temporary structures have been built without consideration to potential landslides leading to further devastation when the rain hits these fissures.
Because these communities were cut off from the road network and no help arrived during the first few days, they have started building temporary shelters using corrugated sheets. The communities in groups, especially family related members are coming together and helping each other in building these shelters. However, these tarpaulins are needed for people whose homes did not have corrugated sheet roofing and instead used stone slate tiles. For those that are reusing their corrugated sheets the holes need to be patched up and we think the biggest quick remedy is the use of silicon and m-seal types of sealants. COMMITTED, has so far provided tarps of various sizes to 120 plus households (approximately 480 people) and five large tarps for schools, police and the health post.
Summer is looming and the communities have said that blankets are not urgent. However, considering the monsoon rain and the uncertainty of the duration of the emergency period providing blankets may still be needed. COMMITTED as of today has covered the entire VDC of 613 households with two blankets each (Total 1,200 plus).
Food flow has been frequenting this part of the district and immediate attention is not necessary. However, stocking up will be much needed. Because the recently cleared roads are still temporary in nature and one can easily realize how the next heavy rain could once again disrupt transportation. Therefore, distributing rice, lentil, and other food for stocking would be an ongoing need. COMMITTED has so far delivered 15 sacks of beaten rice, five boxes of biscuits and five boxes of noodles as immediate relief. Our aim is to provide approximately 24 kilos of rice and 12 kilos of lentils for all households within Thangpalkot VDC.
Sending unnecessary medicine without inquiring about the needs of the local health centers is a concern. Not all medicines are useful. We observed at least one rented vehicle full of medical supply returned. Its not just the medicines but also a full Rs. 24,000 for the vehicle rental has been wasted. COMMITTED so far has aided the local health post with 50,000 worth of medical supplies.
Water supply from natural sources have been disrupted as well as contaminated. Water purification tablets will be in great need.
It will be a while before power is back as the lines have been disrupted and the local leaders are struggling to have their communication devices charged. COMMITTED with help from Pacific Office Care, installed a solar phone charging system, that is now also greatly appreciated by the nearby police post. They are also using it for charging their communication devices.
All schools have been disrupted. Classes cannot be conducted to the immediate effect but creating a conducive environment to at least have the children come in to the schools and conduct classes focused primarily on entertainment and fun games would greatly boost the school teachers’ moral. But to remember is that the children are greatly traumatized just like everyone else, but children tend to understand less of whats going on other than drawing conclusion from the fear set on the elders’ expressions. Therefore, clearing up the debris at the schools, setting up tarpaulin based shelters to conduct fun and games kind of classes could greatly assist getting the schools back in operation. Also, to note is that students as well as teachers have also succumbed to the earthquake, therefore questions regarding their whereabouts would need to be handled very sensitively. COMMITTED has provided large tarps to all schools in Thangpalkot District to conduct such school related activities.
Local government structures where key service delivery activities could take place as well as police posts have also been severely affected. To effectively manage the emergency, support to these units are also very important. COMMITTED has helped in this regard with power supply for charging communication devices as well as provided large tarps (30’x30′) for their service delivery functions.