On April 25- exactly one month ago today, the earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 and epicenter northwest of the capital Kathmandu struck Nepal. The earthquake severely affected 14 of the 75 districts in the country and left behind more than 8,000 victims and 288,000 houses destroyed. The country is still plagued by hundreds of aftershocks. Due to the difficult humanitarian situation caused by the disaster, the Nepalese government called for humanitarian aid on April 26. Two weeks later, on Tuesday May 12, Nepal was struck with another earthquake. This time with a magnitude of 7.3 and epicenter near the village Chilankha in the district of Dolakha. In the following hours, strong aftershocks could still be felt including those with the magnitude of 5.6 and 6.3 on the Richter scale with epicenters located in the Sindhupalchowk and Ramechhap district. According to data provided by the government, 32 districts were struck in total, including those that are still recovering from the earthquake from April 25 – among others also districts Dolakha, Sindhupalchowk, Kavre, Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur.
MAGNA Children at risk (MAGNA) mobilized immediately and on April 26 sent humanitarian aid and Slovak and international volunteers to Nepal. Three days after the earthquake, MAGNA’s local research agency in cooperation with Nepal School of Social Work (NSSW) evaluated the whole situation in affected area Sipappokhari (district Sindhupalchowk). The evaluation was managed by MAGNA coordinator for mental health sent immediately after the earthquake from India. Subsequently, a team of 10 social workers was sent to Sipappokhari district to report any damage to MAGNA representatives in Nepal. Evaluation of the situation showed extensive damage across a large area and a great need of medical and psychosocial assistance to the population affected by the earthquake, which was not provided at the time of evaluation by any other national or international organization. Other priorities specified under fieldwork include providing the basic health care, sanitation and hygiene materials.
During the first month after the earthquake, MAGNA is strengthening its operations in the affected areas where there are currently two teams intervening in Sindhupalchowk district. MAGNA is sending another team in the following days. Urgent intervention with respect to activities aimed at providing primary and mental health care as well as psychosocial aid for the affected population is formed mainly in three areas: Sipappokhari, Bhimtar and Badegaun. In addition to this aid, MAGNA is also distributing basic needs such as sanitation and hygiene kits (MAGNA has so far distributed a total of 3,000 hygiene kits) and water purification tablets. Furthermore, MAGNA developed and trained teams of 15 nurses, therapists, social workers and psychologists who are asked to assist and improve human and material capacity of the destroyed health facilities currently operating in emergency mode. These are in urgent need of essential medicines and medical supplies. MAGNA pledged to deliver basic medical material, which is needed in areas with the risk of chronic viral diseases (one case of cholera was currently identified in Sipappokhari and there is a constant risk of outbreak of tetanus) and three medical tents that will function as a temporary medical and psychosocial centers. Our presence in the field provides aid mostly for the victims of trauma while our activities are focused on preventing the development of long-term psychosocial problems, especially in cases of children. Together with our field partner AmeriCares and supplies from Slovakia and the Czech Republic, MAGNA will continue securing sufficient supply of medicines and medical supplies to three health centers during the next three months.
Two weeks after the earthquake, MAGNA started to provide emotional and psychological aid for children and survivors in three selected villages. Healthcare institutions are completely or partially destroyed and presently work only in emergency mode. Apart from the existing governmental health personnel, MAGNA has also provided support of basic healthcare by sending three medical workers who are helping with the daily operation of health centers. Primary healthcare includes care for reproductive health, treatment of infectious diseases spreading after the earthquake, diarrhea, respiratory infections, high fevers and newly emerging cases of malaria, tetanus and cholera.
Although acute aid from abroad arrives quickly, MAGNA’s experience from previous disasters proves that psychosocial assistance is essential for the thousands of people who have suffered great loss. It is especially women and children who lack support groups and safety centers in their communities. The need for such facilities is huge. Children are at risk of separation from their families due to the displacement or loss of a family member after the earthquake. The risk of gender-based violence, trafficking in women and girls, the risk of violence, abuse, neglect and exploitation may increase after the earthquake particularly among the vulnerable parts of the population, such as marginalized, poor and those living in remote areas. The impact of earthquake will undoubtedly affect the psychosocial status of children mainly those who face the possibility of long-term displacement. For 2,660 children from 26 schools located in the area of intervention, their classes had to be stopped since their schools were damaged or completely destroyed. MAGNA teams will provide professional trainings and psychosocial practical tools for local groups, volunteers, teachers and health workers who will lead support groups, safety centers and child-friendly corners for women and children. MAGNA will set up safety centers and support groups to empower women and children in three selected communities and will also create a local network of trained personnel and government officials who will be able to provide psychosocial assistance for the victims after the end of the project.
The recipients of our aid come from earthquake affected areas of Nepal, mainly from one of the most affected districts, Sindhupalchowk, where 273,976 people (95% of the total population of the district) were directly affected. It is important to note that our project focuses also on those affected recipients who have in the meantime moved away from the devastated areas to the Nepalese countryside. An estimated 25,000 people currently live in the 3 VDCs areas. MAGNA activities affect approximately 17,500 (70%) of the population of this area.
MAGNA activities in the first 3 months of intervention:
MAGNA partners in the field: Nepalese Ministry of Health, Health Cluster partners (OCHA, WHO, among others), AmeriCares.
Partners from Slovakia and the Czech Republic: Orange Foundation, SPP Foundation, Bubo Travel Agency, O2, Orange, Slovak Telekom, Hartmann Rico, DB Schenker, Seesame PR agency, Radio Expres, Istropolitana Ogilvy and nearly 20,000 individuals.