Who is helping the flood victims in Nepal?
Christian NGO, church groups are among those on the ground
Headlines were grabbed by the intense flooding in Houston, Texas last month, caused by Hurricane Harvey. But on the other side of the globe, monsoonal flooding and landslides have hit hard in Nepal during the past two months.
Described as ‘the heaviest in ten years’, rains have devastated communities across Nepal, as well as India and Bangladesh.
The rains have affected more than 1.7 million Nepalis with at least 20,000 families still unable to return home. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, more than 150,000 homes have been partially damaged and almost 65,000 completely destroyed. The death toll currently sits at 160 with many people still missing.
Concern has become focused on providing temporary shelter, distributing supplies to repair homes and avoiding an outbreak of water-borne diseases. There is also deep anxiety around ensuring people’s livelihoods can be maintained. The agricultural sector has suffered a huge blow that presents an enormous challenge to the large number of families who depend on it for their daily survival. To date, 64,000 hectares of standing crops have been completely destroyed by the flooding.
Thirty-six of the 75 districts across Nepal have been affected by the recent, devastating floods
The Australian Government has announced it will donate $2 million dollars to the international relief effort, including $1 million through Australian non-government organisations and $1 million through the World Food Programme.
The International Nepal Fellowship [INF] is a Christian NGO that operates in communities across western Nepal. “Good communication saves lives in the aftermath of a disaster like this,” explains Phil Morris, CEO of INF Australia. “Because of its long history, INF is able to support local authorities in getting essential information out to those in need and coordinating the many organisations who want to help.”
For more than 60 years, INF has worked with Nepal’s poor and marginalised. The NGO also works closely with local government officials, partner organisations and local churches in times of crisis, including the 2015 earthquake, to deliver immediate relief and long-term rehabilitation.
Thirty-six of the 75 districts across Nepal have been affected by the recent, devastating floods. In mid-western Nepal, on the flat southern plains of the Terai, in the district of Banke, houses, cattle, bridges, roads and people were swept away. INF prepared and distributed emergency relief packs and is now supplying non-food items including tents, ropes, blankets, clothes, water purifiers and kitchen supplies for families who have lost everything they owned.
“We have seen the villages devastated by the flood and… [it] is heart-breaking.” – Asal Chhimikee Nepal
Churches across Nepal have also stepped in to help. Asal Chhimekee Nepal [ACN], which means “Good Neighbours” in English, is the social arm of the Pokhara Christian Community, a network of more than 40 Churches in Nepal.
ACN and its volunteers have been working with local authorities to assess people’s needs, and to source and package up much need supplies for distribution. The relief supplies include blankets and tarps, food and gas for cooking, hygiene kits, water filters and purifiers, mosquito nets, as well as school bags with stationary. In some cases ACN has provided a safe place for families affected by the flooding to sleep at night. ACN are now helping people clean up their homes and are assisting with repairs.
“We have seen the villages devastated by the flood and… [it] is heart-breaking,” says Raju Adhikari, ACN Executive Director. “Many of them are homeless, under tents and cooking outside. [The] water level has subsided but devastation is still there. People feel so scared and traumatised.”
The Christian community in Nepal have had a huge witness through how they have responded to disasters and by helping those around them. In a country where it is now illegal to share your personal Christian faith, this is a great way for Christians to show the love of Jesus.
… the long process of rebuilding houses and replanting fields will begin
Fears of water-borne disease outbreaks from contaminated water and poor sanitation and hygiene have seen INF utilise its long-term experience in health and nutrition as the crisis unfolds. Working closely with local authorities, INF is helping to deliver public health information leaflets and roll out nutrition assessments for children under five. Organisations including Samaritan’s Purse are also on the ground in Nepal with water treatment kits that provide 38,000 litres of clean water each day.
As the floods recede over the coming weeks, the long process of rebuilding houses and replanting fields will begin. INF’s focus is upon helping the poor and disadvantaged, particularly people with disability, to be recognised and valued in their community. INF also strives to let them know that they are made in God’s image.
“I know that many people have been praying for those affected by these disasters, and that is one way we can all contribute,” says Phil Morris. “Through generous donations we have already sent nearly $20,000 to support INF and Asal Chimekee’s flood response work – enough to provide emergency response kits for 200 families – but much more will be needed over the coming months to help them recover.”
Alex Barwick works with INF.