Nepal: Response to the earthquake

April,  2017
On 25 April and 12 May, 2015, two powerful earthquakes struck Nepal with epicenters in Gorkha and Dolakha, respectively. This resulted in colossal devastation in lives, livelihoods and infrastructure across 39 affected districts with 14 districts being declared priority. HELVETAS Nepal responded immediately with relief activities and its engagement for rehabilitation and reconstruction has resulted into six projects so far. The major work and achievements of the projects are highlighted as follows:
Employment Fund’s Skills for Reconstruction (October 2015 to January 2018) was HELVETAS Nepal’s pilot initiative in resilient reconstruction. Building on its expertize on skill youth, it trains them in reconstruction related occupations, ensures their gainful employment and contributes for reconstruction process. On-site training, owner led earthquake resilient construction and the integration of earthquake resilient technology in construction related trades are some of its key features. In total, the project covers 10 earthquake affected districts (Gorkha, Dhading, Rasuwa, Sindhupalchowk, Dolakha, Kavrepalanchwok, Makawanpur, Sindhuli,  Ramechap and Okhaldhunga) and aims to train 10,850 individuals by June 2017. So far, it has imparted skills training to 2,981 individuals and supported the construction of 1,046 houses. What is noteworthy is that the National Reconstruction Authority, Government of Nepal has now adopted its training model.
Rehabilitation of facilities of Earthquake Affected People (August 2015 to July 2018) is being implemented in 6 former Village Development Committees and 1 Municipality of the Helambu - Melamchi corridor of Sindhupalchok District. The project supports the construction of 781 earthquake resistant permanent houses and sanitation facilities including toilets; provides training in earthquake resilient construction techniques to 1,300 local craftsperson; and, rehabilitates drinking water schemes to benefit 3,000 households with restored access to safe drinking water. A few of its major achievements are – construction completion of 135 houses and construction ongoing of 137 houses; completion of detailed technical survey and design estimate of 33 Drinking Water Schemes of which 4 are rehabilitated.
Economic Recovery of Earthquake Affected Population (February 2016 to January 2017) supported 2,456 vulnerable families in 6 Village Development Committees and 5 wards of Melamchi Municipality in the Helambu - Melamchi corridor with direct livelihood support for agricultural or non-agricultural asset replacement and to counter food insecurity. It supported the rehabilitation of 5 irrigation schemes covering 2,770 Ropanis (140 hectare) cultivation area of 503 farming households benefitting 2,626 farmers.
Rehabilitation of Earthquake affected Schools (October 2015 to December 2018) supports with rehabilitation of 34 safe and child-friendly schools in the communities in 6 former VDCs of the Sindhupalchok district. In addition to providing the school infrastructure, the project equips all schools with safe, accessible and gender-appropriate facilities for water supply and sanitation. Some of its major achievements are – completion of construction of 4 schools of which two already handed to the community and the construction of three more schools that are at various stages of progress. Likewise, the construction of 7 school water supply is completed and 2 are implemented.
Rehabilitation of Trail Bridges damaged during earthquake (2015 to 2019) supports with the rehabilitation and reconstruction of earthquake damaged 79 bridges in Gorkha, Rasuwa, Dhading, Sindhupalchowk, Sindhuli, Dolakha, Kavre, Manang, Lamjung, Ramechhap, Nuwakot, Udaypur, Panchthar and Myagdi. The progress so far is that 69 of the 79 damaged bridges have been constructed and the remaining 10 are at various stages of construction progress.
Revive Coffee (November 2015 to March 2017) supported the rehabilitation and reconstruction of 50 coffee production and processing infrastructure in Gorkha, Sindhupalchowk, Lalitpur, Nuwakot and Kavrepalanchowk benefiting 2,640 coffee farmers and the reconstruction of 40 pulping centres in 4 districts along with 3 DCCUs and Solar System Water Lifting system.
September, 2016
An Agreement amongst the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA); Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD); and Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC) has provided a basis to implement the recovery and reconstruction project.  HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation and Solidar Switzerland collaboration, funded by Swiss Solidarity, is implementing two projects viz. "Rehabilitation of facilities of Earthquake Affected People (REAP)" and "Recovery of Agricultural Livelihoods-(ReAL)" in Sindhupalchowk district of Nepal.

Rehabilitation of facilities of Earthquake Affected People (REAP)
The project has two outcomes viz. (1) 1,000 affected households are better protected through earthquake resistant permanent houses and sanitation facilities, (2) 3,000 affected households have restored access to safe drinking water.
Under outcome 1, the project has focused on rebuilding houses of vulnerable families - e.g. with single women, elderly people -  who are unable to reconstruct their houses on their own.  The project has trained 10 women and 139 men in masonry till August 2016. The project has completed the construction of 12 houses with ongoing reconstruction of 25 houses for 25 families. In doing so, it has established Quality Control Mechanism through the presence of field engineers and field technicians. The training component has been organized in coordination with Employment Fund-Skill for Reconstruction.  Women participation in masonry training has been inspiring for the project.  Example is a case study of Mithhe Kami.
Not only single women but differently abled persons are also supported by the project:
Under outcome 2, in the process of the reconstruction and rehabilitation of drinking water supply schemes, the project has focused on connecting private taps to 3,000 households.
Twenty-two water users’ committees have been reactivated and the schemes are in various stages - agreement with users’ committees  of 13 water supply schemes including community action plan, public hearing, collection of local materials. The committees are meeting regularly and have started to contribute to the Scheme Operation and Maintenance Fund to ensure proper functioning of the water scheme beyond the project duration.
Out of the schemes under implementation Palchok Ghyang drinking water supply scheme has progressed to almost completion stage. The project is simultaneously assessing survey reports and finalizing design estimates for the remaining water schemes. The project is linking relief, rehabilitation and development work.  It has organized Village Maintenance Workers (VMW) training with the participation of 23 persons (1 woman, 22 men) from 16 DWSS user committees. These village maintenance workers are responsible for the overall maintenance of the drinking water supply scheme in their respective VDCs. They are also responsible for  extending their services beyond the REAP project duration.
To promote woman-friendly shelter, the project encourages villagers to build latrines and bathrooms.  The project is organizing local latrine builders training from the second week of September 2016. During this training the trainees will build some latrines for needy households. The trainees can also render their services to those who demand their services in improving sanitation facilities.

Recovery of Agricultural Livelihoods (ReAL)
Outcome statement of the project is that agricultural livelihood options are secured and food insecurity of 5,000 households is reduced in selected village development committees and municipalities. To meet the defined outcome, the project expects to provide livelihood support to selected 2,500 households.   Another compoment of this project is to rehabilitate 40 irrigation schemes, rehabilitate 25 watermills and support 16 agro vets and cooperatives to develop their business-plans.
As of August 2016, the project has distributed livelihood support equivalent to NRs. 25,000 per household to 1,467 households of Ichok, Kiwool, Helambu and Duwachaur village development committees. The households have developed their Livelihood Implementation Plan (LIP) and received support through the cooperatives of the respective village development committees.  The remaining households are in the process of receiving support. Further, the rehabilitation of 5 irrigation schemes has started. For the endurance of irrigation schemes beyond the project period, a mechanism of  operation and fund management has been initiated. The quality control of these schemes is ensured through field engineers and field technicians.

One year since the Nepal Earthquake 2015

Kathmandu, 25 April 2016 Kathmandu, 25 April 2016
On 25 April and on 12 May two powerful earthquakes struck Nepal with epicentres in Gorkha and Dolakha, respectively. This resulted in colossal devastation in lives, livelihoods and infrastructure across 39 affected districts with 14 districts being declared priority. As per data from the National Emergency Operations Centre 8,891 people died and 22,302 have been injured. Furthermore, 604,930 houses were severely and 288,856 houses moderately damaged. The total cost of recovery from the earthquake is estimated at US$ 7.1 billion, 1/3 of the country’s gross domestic product. 
HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation implemented an emergency response operation in Sindhupalchowk and some activities in other affected districts, because of the organisation’s prior development engagement there. It made use of the available human and logistic resources of the organization in Nepal: about 50 staff members were engaged in this effort. The operation was initially funded by HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation’s Emergency Fund, the country programme budget for Nepal and two emergency response projects funded by Swiss Solidarity. The emergency operations supported in total about 15,000 households with the distribution of different standard and gender responsive relief materials for shelter, water supply, sanitation, hygiene and agriculture. In its approach HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation strictly adhered to the humanitarian response principles, esp. humanity, impartiality, independence and neutrality while keeping in mind equality of the action to avoid that marginalized do not benefit. At the same time the organisation supported its staff with immediate relief where necessary and assessed affected staff’s homes for financial support.
Already early on HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation initiated collaboration with Solidar Suisse, CARITAS Switzerland and different Alliance 2015 members. During the year, HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation with the support of Swiss Solidarity, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation and funds donated by the Swiss public initiated different recovery and reconstruction efforts:
  • Employment Fund – Skilling for Reconstruction has the objective to impart earthquake resilient construction skills to 3,000 affected people thereby helping them to reconstruct 4,000 earthquake resistant houses in six earthquake affected districts. This Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation funded and HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation implemented project has supported to revise the mason’s curricula of the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training to include earthquake resilience. Based on this curriculum the project has  developed a training manual for 50 day’s on-site training. Moreover, 160 trainers have got Training of Trainers before organizing the training at field. Up to date skills training was provided to 880 masons. As part of the training they completed 141 houses and 60 houses are under construction. 
  • Rehabilitation of Facilities of Earthquake Affected People aims to restore water supply schemes of 3,000 households and construct 1,000 earthquake resilient houses in Sindhupalchowk district. This Swiss Solidarity funded and HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation and Solidar Suisse implemented project has nearly completed a rigorous beneficiary selection and started with house construction. So far two houses are under construction and for ten more site clearance and material preparation has been initiated. For water supply rehabilitation the survey and feasibility studies for nine water supply schemes were conducted and two design estimates were prepared.
  • Economic Rehabilitation of Facilities of Earthquake Affected People supports 2’500 vulnerable families in eight village development committees in the Helambu-Melamchi corridor with direct livelihood support for agricultural or non-agricultural asset replacement and to counter food insecurity, and rehabilitates five damaged irrigation schemes. The project is funded by Swiss Solidarity and implemented by Solidar Suisse and HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation. The project team is currently implementing different preparatory works including final beneficiary assessment, identification of possible cooperatives and the prioritization and selection of irrigation schemes based on the water use master plans, village development council documents and the schemes supported for temporary rehabilitation during the emergency period. Approval for two irrigation schemes has already been received. The other three are in the process. 
  • Revive Coffee, funded and implemented by HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation, supports the re-establishment of 50 coffee processing centres and nurseries operated by primary coffee cooperatives in five earthquake affected districts. Construction has been initiated in three districts - Nuwakot, Kavrepalanchowk and Lalitpur - with 5 days practical orientation to skilled masons on earthquake resilience building construction technique. Currently construction activities are ongoing at 32 sites.
  • The Trail Bridge Sub sector Programme, in addition to its usual activities, aims to rehabilitate 57 trail bridges damaged by the earthquake in nine affected districts. Wire ropes, bulldog-grips and steel parts are provided as a material grant by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation funded, while construction is funded by the Government of Nepal. So far the rehabilitation of eight bridges is completed, while the work was initiated at 17 bridge sites. HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation provides technical assistance through its Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation funded Trail Bridge Support Unit.
  • Rehabilitation of earthquake affected schools will reconstruct 34 schools with adequate water supply and sanitation facilities in Sindhupalchowk district. The project is funded by Swiss Solidarity and implemented by CARITAS Switzerland and HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation. After memoranda of understanding were signed with the Department of Education and the District Development Committee and approval of the designs and construction plans, construction works of the first five schools (the pilot phase schools) have started. 


Update on our activities in Earthquake affected area

February 2016
HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation has agreed with three district coffee cooperatives – Kavre, Nuwakot and Lalitpur to reconstruct a total of 34 coffee pulping centres. For this, the site specific estimates have been prepared after field verification of all sites. The foundation as well as truss installation with roofing has been completed in Jaisithok & Nayagaun Village Development Committees of Kavre. The site preparation and local material collection works are ongoing in most of other sites. In addition 11 coffee pulping machines were handed over to primary coffee cooperatives of Kavre district.
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04 September, 2015
  • Household, shelter and emergency kits (Tarpulin-15745 PCs, Household Emergency kits -5167, Blanket- 11556 pcs)  were distributed to earthquake affected people of five districts namely; Sindhupalchowk, Gorkha, Kavre, Ramechhap and Dhading
  • Community water supply, maintenance and repair work  in Sindhupalchowk  was completed in different area of focused village development committees. So far, 31  water supply schemes were repaired and fixed.
  • A total 822 household of 8 village development committees were  directly benefitted from this support.
  • Irrigation system repair and maintenance support work has been  completed in 8 village development committees. Out of which, 26 irrigation system maintenance for 1757 households were completed so far.
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene related materials  ( Hygiene kits – 5126 pcs, Dignity Kits – 5126, Water Purifier – 4280 bottle), distribution was completed in sindhupalchowk district. The initiation of  material distribution was undertaken by HELVETAS during the period from 1st May, 2015 to 30  August,  2015.
  • Toilet repair and maintenance materials handed over to community members as  emergency support to build the household and community latrine. So far, 2387  temporary toilet construction has been completed, which is being used properly in the emergency  situation.
  • Temporary learning center support and school water and sanitation program are being implemented  in 41 schools in  collaboration with CARITAS Switzerland. So far, 118 sets of  prefab/salvage material  toilet have been supported and installed in seven village development committees of Sindhupalchowk. Similarly, based on  the requirement of  drinking water for children, the 28 drinking water system has been installed in 25 schools.

Relief Distribution and Our Activities in Sindhupalchok

22 June, 2015
Last week hygiene kits to 6,500 households and emergency kits to 5,500 household were distributed in Duwachaur, Mahankal, Palchok and Ichok Village Development Committees. The distribution was supervised by our staff Jyotiram Mishra. Similarly, shelter kits and blankets received from CARITAS were distributed in Helambu and Palchok Village Development Committees.  Maintenance of 14 community water supply schemes was completed. We also provided rice and beaten rice to ADARA to be distributed in Ghyangphedi Village Development Committee of Nuwakot District.

Relief Distribution Status

11 June, 2015
Soon after the devastating earthquake, our dedicated team is stationed in Mahankal Village Development Committee of Sindhupalchok District and because of their continuous and tireless effort in supporting the affected people, we were able to reach to 11,412 households supporting more than 60,000 people.

So far we were able to distribute tarpaulins to 11,236 households, blankets to 4,183 households, water purifier and hygiene to more than 5,000 households each and seeds (paddy) to more than 4,000 households.
Construction on temporary learning shelter is ongoing and we hope to cover eight village development committees of Sindhupalchok District.

Water sources in uphill areas of Sindhupalchowk district depleted after 7.8 M Earthquake

Madan Bhatta and Rubika Shrestha, 15 May, 2015
The devastating earthquake on 25 April 2015 caused changes in yields of local water sources. The water sources located in the uphill areas featured reduced yields whereas sources located at the foothills showed an increased discharge.  "Shekhar Lamichhane, 50, from Mahankal VDC - 9 said "I lost not only my wife and granddaughter but I am also facing water hardship due to the depleted sources of the drinking water scheme after the earthquake" The water source used for drinking water is located in the mid hill area of the Melamchi watershed. Now, people from 10 households of Sera village are compelled to use another water source which is situated far away from the village. Bharat Karki, local teacher from Mahankal -1, shared that the water discharge in the stream nearby his house has been increased after the earthquake. His house is located in the foothill area of the Melamchi watershed. Reportedly, the stream water had a muddy smell and increased turbidity during two to three days after the earthquake.

Water sources in uphill areas of Sindhupalchowk district depleted after 7.8 M Earthquake

PDF, 3 page(s), HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation Nepal, 1.05 MB

Learning from Imperfections; 2015 Nepal Earthquake

Bikram Rana, 6 May 2015

USGS described the April 25, 2015 M 7.8 Nepal earthquake occurrence “as the result of thrust faulting on or near the main thrust interface between the sub ducting India plate and the overriding Eurasia plate to the north.” The earthquake hit devastated the infrastructures with human and animal death toll rising. In the midst of scarier aftershocks we managed to sit in an emergency support meeting on 28th April and decided to take some stuffs for relief and do a rapid assessment of the needs. The road to Melamchi watershed area got clear only on 29th and we were through to Mahankal VDC of Sindhupalchowk.

One week on and the earth is still shaking…

Jane Carter, 2 May 2015

It was last Saturday that the first earthquake struck, and one week on, many communities are reportedly still without assistance. There is a general perception that much initial support focused on Kathmandu at the expense of more remote rural areas. However, at least in Gorkha and Sindupalchowk, we know that immediate relief is getting through. This morning our Deputy Director Mona Sherpa reported that a total of 3,132 tarpaulins had been procured, of which 3,012 had been dispatched and 120 were waiting to go out with the next vehicle. All those distributed went either to Sindhupalchok (1,992) or Gorkha (1,080) with the exception of 20, which were given to staff members who were themselves in great need.

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Mobilising supplies through the Terai

Jane Carter, 01 May 2015

Our team members who went to Sindhupalchowk are now back in Kathmandu, two vehicles having reached the VDC of Talamarang, where they were able to distribute some 600 tarpaulins as well as water purifiers and basic medical supplies. (VDC stands for Village Development Committee – the lowest administrative unit in Nepal). A rather chilling request that they have received is for supplies of quick lime to cover dead bodies and thus prevent the spread of disease.


First news from Sindhupalchowk

Jane Carter, 29 April 2015

Our Deputy Country Director in Nepal, Mona Sherpa, has posted on Skype, “The glory of life is in rising up after each fall and gearing up…”

Our assessment teams heading out to Sindhupalchowk and Gorkha district have reached their destinations. Bikram Rana, reporting for the Sindhupalchowk team, writes of feeling overwhelmed by the extent of the need – and of a sense of disorientation given the extent of the damage in places that were familiar to them. They passed journalists filming buildings lying in ruins, and wondered about the emotions of those who had lost their homes who were watching.


Our staff are safe and we are actively supporting the relief effort!

The earthquake of 25 April left all our 230 Nepali and five expatriate colleagues at Helvetas-Nepal unharmed, and our Kathmandu office is essentially undamaged. Helvetas has allocated CHF 750,000 for immediate emergency and reconstruction operations. We have launched an appeal to the Swiss public for further funding and we are working hard in coordinating the immediate response effort with other agencies.
Helvetas is a member of Alliance 2015, a group of European NGOs working in development and humanitarian assistance. In supporting the immediate relief effort in Nepal, we are working with those alliance partners who specialise in post-disaster support. We are also coordinating closely with the Nepal authorities, and with other Swiss agencies operating in Nepal, most notably the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, SDC.

Helvetas will ensure that funds already planned for development efforts are channelled to those people most affected by the earthquake. We anticipate that our expertise in the construction and renovation of water and sanitation facilities will be particularly needed. Our engineers will also be assessing and if necessary repairing the trail bridges built with Swiss support – providing access to the more remote areas that have been badly hit by the earthquake.

It is now clear that the areas to the North-west and -east of Kathmandu are even more devastated than the capital. We are thus focusing immediate assistance on these areas, and have sent relief teams to Gorkha and Sindhupalanchowk districts.

Nepal: Response to the earthquake

Jane Carter, 28 April 2015

The news on Saturday came as a bombshell – although not a total surprise. All of us who work or have worked in Nepal are aware of the earthquake risk, and there had been predictions of “a big one” for some time. Yet of course it’s never known exactly when, where, or how big this might be. I was in Kathmandu myself in the last, relatively minor earthquake of 1988; the brief eerie silence immediately afterwards, followed by cries of fear, are not something I’ll forget.
  • Bikram Rana Tharu

    Team Leader Phone: +977 1 5543591 Mobile: +977 9858050783
  • Madan Raj Bhatta

    Team Leader Phone: +977 83 521092 Mobile: +977 9848424078
  • Rubika Shrestha

    Planning, Monitoring and Information Officer Phone: +977 83 521092 Mobile: +977 9851166966