Oxfam reaching Nepal’s most isolated in a race against the monsoon

By Oxfam

One month on since the first earthquake hit Nepal, Oxfam is working with mountain guides and porters to deliver life saving aid to the most remote communities before monsoon season.

Mountain guides and porters are assisting Oxfam with its relief delivery in the Gorkha district, one of the worst hit by the earthquake, where up to 90% of the homes have been destroyed and communities have been cut off by landslides.

On Sunday, May 17, the first team of porters and mountain guides trekked from devastated Barpak, the epicenter of the first earthquake, for over four hours to reach Laprak, a hamlet approximately 1.7 miles above sea level. They were carrying tarpaulins and hygiene kits - the equivalent of almost 5,000 pounds of aid materials - to displaced people. Oxfam is now planning similar activities to reach other isolated communities as soon as possible, since the monsoon could hit anytime in the next four weeks.

Orla Murphy, head of Oxfam Nepal earthquake response, said: “We have called upon the knowledge and experience of Nepal’s mountain guides to make sure the aid gets through to those who need it the most. Not only is this an effective way to deliver aid, it also provides work for porters who cannot find work as easily as they did prior to the disaster.

"We must do everything we can to provide people with the assistance they need before the monsoon hits. There is no time to waste."

In the last month two large earthquakes and more than 100 aftershocks have devastated Nepal, killing over 8,600 people and leaving millions affected.  

So far Oxfam has reached over 150,000 people in 7 of the worst hit districts of Nepal, providing clean water, emergency shelter and food.

Murphy added: “Thanks to our long standing partners in Nepal, we were able to deliver relief to people immediately after the first earthquake. We have not stopped since, despite the second earthquake and the strong aftershocks.”

Oxfam has trucked clean water to over 30,000 people in Kathmandu valley, and distributed enough tarpaulins for over 50,000 people across Gorkha, Dhading, Nuwakot and Sindhupalchok. In Nuwakot Oxfam has also delivered food baskets, with rice, lentils and oil rations for two weeks for over 25,000 people.

Murphy continued: “With Nepal expected to receive 80% of its annual rainfall over the three-month monsoon period, the top priority for Oxfam is to make sure people have safe shelter. We have also distributed rice seeds to farmers who need to plant a new crop before the rains start. Two out of three people in Nepal rely on small scale farming for a living. Many of them have lost their loved ones in the earthquake, but also their homes, reserve crops and their seeds. If we don’t act quickly, they risk losing next year’s crop, too - and becoming dependent on aid.

“We need to keep providing immediate emergency relief to people, and at the same time start supporting them towards long term recovery; people need to be able to start rebuilding their lives."

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