Race against winter six months after devastating Nepal earthquake: UN humanitarian official

KATHMANDU: The top United Nations humanitarian official and country team for Nepal on Friday stressed that shelter and food remain top priorities as winter approaches six months after the April earthquake and its aftershocks that devastated the Himalayan country.

They further urged for the quick resolution of fuel shortage such that "winter goods can be quickly delivered to vulnerable households".

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) said with the Government of Nepal, humanitarian partners provided emergency shelter to over 700,000 families, but the effect of the coming harsh cold weather is a concern with many people still without permanent durable housing.

“While much has been achieved, the humanitarian community remains committed to meet remaining needs,” said Jamie McGoldrick, Humanitarian Coordinator in Nepal. “With the winter on the way, we must ensure adequate shelter and food security, particularly for more than 80,000 families.”

About 9,000 people were killed and more than 600,000 houses were destroyed and damaged 290,000 houses in the April 25 earthquake and its powerful aftershock on May 12.

According to an OCHA statement, humanitarian partners provided food to over 1.4 million people over the last six months, while established temporary classrooms for 300,000 children and supported health authorities to restore all damaged health facilities by June

To reach remote and isolated villages, last mile logistics operations employed innovative and traditional methods of delivering assistance with 16,000 porters and hundreds of mules, it said adding that over 500,000 people received multi-purpose cash assistance, which helped them bridge the economic gap caused by devastated livelihoods.

“When faced with tough challenges like the monsoon season, landslides and difficult terrain, we are proud of how we have been able to support the Government and people of Nepal and respond to the challenges overall,” McGoldrick said. “But present conditions are a concern.”

Distribution affected due to fuel shortage

The Humanitarian Country Team further expressed concern over the fuel shortage in Nepal, saying it has impeded the progress and urged for "a quick resolution to the fuel shortage so that winter goods can be quickly delivered to vulnerable households".

This massive logistical undertaking can be achieved, McGoldrick says, but the lack of fuel is significantly affecting distribution of goods. There is a brief window of fair weather in which humanitarian actors can respond before the snow.

With the humanitarian needs of earthquake-affected communities largely met, the statement said, the Humanitarian Country Team is working very closely with the Government and other partners to ensure a smooth transition to recovery and reconstruction.

“The Humanitarian Country Team is looking forward to the establishment of the National Reconstruction Authority,” said McGoldrick. “Once it becomes operational, we anticipate that we will start to see the rapid expansion of reconstruction across the earthquake-affected areas.”


UN concerned over delay in delivery of humanitarian supplies to Nepal earthquake-hit areas due to fuel shortage