In Nepal, UN and relief agencies race against time as monsoon season nears

A cargo plane carrying 40 metric tonnes of life-saving supplies lands in Kathmandu to provide assistance to some of the 1.7 million children affected by the 25 April 2015 earthquake in Nepal. Photo: UNICEF/Kiran Panday

11 May 2015 – Two weeks after a devastating 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, emergency responders are racing against time to reach affected populations in the mountainous country's most remote regions, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has announced.

“We have a short window to reach people in need,” Jamie McGoldrick, the UN's top relief official in the Asian state confirmed Saturday in a press release. “With the monsoon season just around the corner, our imperative is to provide communities with roofs over their heads and meet their basic needs.”

According to OCHA, relief efforts are tackling Nepal's challenging topography by combining standard aid delivery with competencies and traditional methods of the local communities in order to speed up the flow of humanitarian aid ahead of the monsoon season anticipated to begin in the next four to six weeks.

“Many mobile relief teams were dispatched to cover the affected areas on foot,” the UN relief arm explained. “Relief goods are also being dropped off at agreed locations with the communities so they can pick them up.”

The UN also noted that responders on the ground were reaching out to the affected communities via dedicated radio programming and through mobile networks “to ensure they know how and where to obtain relief.”

OCHA added that this would also allow it to receive direct feedback on their needs and concerns, so that they could address them accordingly.

One of the growing challenges has been to provide thousands of Nepalese with shelter alternatives following the widespread destruction wrought by the tremors.

To date, in coordination with district and national authorities, OCHA said tens of thousands of tarpaulins and household items had been distributed; more than 360,000 people had received food; some 300,000 people were provided with safe drinking water; and thousands of other had benefitted from sanitation and hygiene support.


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