The humanitarian response to the 2015 Nepal earthquake.

Author:Ovesen, Puk


On the morning of 25 April 2015, Nepal shook with a 7.8 magnitude earthquake. When the dust settled, thousands of people had died and buildings had come crumbling down. It was a Saturday, a day off in Nepal, which means that the offices and schools that had collapsed were closed. If it had been any other day, the death toll could have been much higher. A little more than two weeks later, on 12 May, a 7.3 magnitude aftershock struck, resulting in more casualties and destruction.

More than 8,800 lives were lost, thousands of people were injured, and over 800,000 buildings and monuments were left destroyed or damaged. Experts pegged direct damages and losses at a staggering $7 billion.

In those first few days following the earthquake, the first responders were members of local communities, along with Nepalis from across the country. Neighbours pulled neighbours out of the rubble. People shared their scarce resources with those in need. The youth of Nepal mobilized to collect relief items and travelled long distances across difficult terrain to help their fellow citizens recover. Local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) used their extensive networks to provide critical information to the military and humanitarian actors. They deployed volunteers on foot, carrying supplies on their backs to the most remote areas, places helicopters and vehicles could not reach.

With help from the United Nations, the Government of Nepal, thousands of volunteers and over 450 humanitarian agencies responded to deliver critical life-saving aid to affected communities. The United Nations, donors, international NGOs and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies immediately mobilized resources and reprogrammed activities. On 29 April, the Humanitarian Country Team launched the Nepal Earthquake Flash Appeal to provide protection and relief to 2.8 million people. Under the Flash Appeal, from April to September 2015, humanitarian assistance reached 3.7 million people.

Now, as we mark one year since the 25 April 2015 earthquake, we can reflect on what went well and what could have been done better. Recent formal evaluations and reviews of the response by the humanitarian community have been positive, finding that collective humanitarian efforts were quick, well-coordinated and effective. The effectiveness of the response was facilitated by a collaborative approach among donors, as well as by the United Nations and...

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