Waves For Water has been mobilizing an urgent clean-water disaster relief initiative in response to the earthquake that struck Nepal Saturday April 25, 2015 at 11:56 a.m. local time.
The initial quake was 7.9 magnitude, followed by a strong aftershock of 6.6 a half-hour afterward, along with at least 15 aftershocks of 4.5 or greater, the USGS reported. Over 6 million people have been affected by this between Nepal and its surrounding countries and W4W have been implementing water filtration systems throughout the hardest hit areas by working with local networks, community centers, refugee camps, and individual families.
Jon gives his latest update on the situation:
“We have been working tirelessly since we landed two weeks ago and today I carved out a couple hours to get caught up and update you all on the progress. Then, half way through writing this a massive quake hit. We have been experiencing aftershocks every day but this was just measured at 7.3 with a depth of 9 miles and duration of 45 sec. This is massive, and a serious blow to so many of the already compromised structures. I was on the second story of a 4 story building and ran out to the balcony to get a better perspective… everything was falling over and I had to bear hug one of the large pillars that help to hold up the entire building. I had no time to run down the stairs. There was a couple moments when it really punched that I thought the building might go down. Our teams that are scattered around the region are ok. Cell service is jammed but i was able to text back and forth with everyone. The rest of our day of work is a wash with everyone in the entire region camped outside and understandably rattled. Grateful that we are not under a bunch of rubble, I will continue to finish this update from the safety of an outside open courtyard… but I do it with a heavy heart as I know this was another big blow for many of the small communities that we have been working in.
I always speak about empowerment being the key focus to our program, in any country we are working – primarily, the development of local networks that will manage and sustain the program long after we’ve gone. But it has risen to a whole new level here in Nepal due to the nature of this disaster and specifically the geographic predicament – simply put, we can’t build and empower a local network within a community if we can’t get there!
As you can well imagine the access to many of the hard hit rural areas is very difficult with all of the land slides that have wiped out the dirt roads and/or trails connecting them. In some cases relief teams are leaving on 6 day walking treks just to reach one small village. Which is absolutely worth it, yet very time consuming and unfortunately slow… There is also a fairly limited supply of choppers in comparison to how many outlying areas are in need of assistance. The government has commandeered most of the private chopper companies and have them running nonstop delivering aid and pulling the wounded out. Even still, there are many villages that they can’t access due to the LZ’s being compromised or simply not there at all. It’s also especially hard for the choppers in some cases with high altitude villages because the air is thinner, which prevents the chopper from taking its normal weight capacity… resulting in more trips needed.
So with this all in mind I have shifted our approach a bit. In addition to the strikes we are personally doing based of the organic local intel coming to us, we have been engaging and facilitating a bunch of other relief groups (big and small) that are focusing on specific regions or villages. Using the “train the trainer” model we are essentially able to give them a new tool to add into the rest of their relief plans for that area. This has proved quite effective in maximizing our footprint of impact, with the resources we have.
As a result, in collaboration with all these different teams, we have been able to activate in 8 districts. However, there are still so many places that haven’t been reached. I am happy with this initial start but we’re also working tirelessly to activate more teams to spread the reach of the program. Even if they are one small team that will hike for a week to get a village, I’m bringing them into the fold. In addition to the dozen or so groups we’ve activated, we have about 6 new networks that we’re plugging into, scheduled for this week, that will all be hitting new areas.
This two pronged approach has been really well suited for this particular disaster – as our own unit, we will always able to identify problem areas and implement accordingly, but by arming (and training) other teams with filters the reach is enormously amplified.
Some of the key partnerships have been more traditional and large in scale, such as the NHRC (Ministry of Health) and the Nepalese Army. They have both fully embraced our program and are implementing filter systems daily in various tent camps and hospitals they’re managing, in and around Kathmandu. Because of this there are now 27 camps and 8 hospitals that have a consistent and reliable source of clean water – both for the victims and workers staying there. We have also activated an organization called CNFNepal, which is solely focused on providing for orphanages around the entire KTM valley. Since training them, they’ve implemented to 25 orphanages, with 26 more scheduled over the next week.
The other two larger groups are both military – The Canadian Army and the British Gurkha’s. The Canadians are based in arguably the hardest hit district of Sindhupalchok. They are administering a range of aid supplies and now, that includes our water filter program. The British Gurkha’s are doing really targeted strikes to specific villages, primarily focused on distributing ShelterBox kits, and they are now also incorporating our filter program into the fold.
Then there are the more grass roots groups we’ve activated, such as Karma Flights (great smaller NGO based out of Pokhara), who have set up a support base camp in one of the valleys connected to many hard hit villages in the Gorkha district, and Bali based NGO Bye Bye Plastic Bags who are focused on helping the village of Palchowk in Sindhupalchok District. They have both had great response in target areas villages with our filter program. Another couple groups are The Red Panda Network (a conservation group out of Kathmandu) that are providing mobile medical clinics in Gorkha and Nuwakot districts, as well as TEAM Nepal that has a children’s home (for past 15 yrs) in Talamarang, Sindhupalchok.
As I said, this is a good start considering all the logistical limitations here, but the scope of this thing is massive and it will just take time to reach everywhere – there’s no way around it.
Lastly, we are getting an official MOU + certificate from the NHRC (Ministry of Health) on Thurs, acknowledging the partnership we have developed with them and the official sanctioning our program here. This will help a lot to navigate through the system here moving forward.
Thank you again to everyone who has supported and encouraged us in this… it IS making a difference.
I’ll keep you posted as best I can…”
For more information on how you can help, visit Waves for Water.