May 27, 2015
One month after Nepal’s April 25th 7.8-magnitude earthquake and it’s 7.3-magnitude follow-up on May 12th, the aftershocks keep coming. Two days ago, a 5.0-magnitude tremor was recorded in western Nepal's Gorkha district, with a 4.1-magnitude tremor following further east in the Dolakha district.
Since April 25, the death toll has risen above 8,600 people and the number continues to rise.
Over one half million buildings have been severely damaged or flattened.
The UN's Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has confirmed that 8.1 million people are in need of humanitarian support while another 1.9 million require food assistance.
According to OCHA, some 315,000 people in the 14 most affected districts remain in areas inaccessible by road while 75,000 others cannot even be reached by air.
The U.N. agency UNICEF has reported that an estimated 70,000 children under the age of five now risk malnutrition.
The Nepalese government has said it will take over $7 billion, or one-third of the country's gross domestic product, to rebuild, and little reconstruction is expected during the rainy season, predicted to begin in less than three weeks.
Jamie McGoldrick, U.N. resident coordinator in Nepal, said on Monday that the
international community's response to Nepal’s devastations has been disappointing.
The U.N. appealed for $423 million to be able to provide up to two million survivors with basic relief such as tents or tarpaulin sheets, dry food rations, safe drinking water and toilets for the next three months. As of Monday, the U.N. Financial Tracking System showed $92.4 million has been raised, 22 percent of the required funds.
Said McGoldrick: "I am disappointed in the sense that there was such an impressive response in terms of search and rescue - all the teams that came in to do the work, they did very impressively and comprehensively - and maybe they think that's the job done…The talk now is about reconstruction, but we are trying to remind people that in between search and rescue and recovery, there is a phase called relief and we can't forget that."
McGoldrick said the slow response was partly due to donor fatigue where governments were being torn between competing humanitarian crises across the world such as the civil conflict in Syria or in Yemen.
Nepal's traditional donors were also more "development" focused and were likely holding back funds for long-term reconstruction and recovery projects, he added.
But he warned that there was only a small window of opportunity to buy and get relief supplies delivered to survivors in remote mountain hamlets ahead of the annual monsoons which run from June to September.
The heavy rains in areas which were already damaged by the earthquakes would "complicate relief efforts all the more" as they would trigger more landslides and block roads, hampering the delivery of aid by trucks.