Nepal earthquake – update from the villages

HH is on the ground in Nepal and after linking up with Rotary, the Nepali construction team and Village partners can report the following. Apologies for all those anxious to hear direct news … but the internet service and communications since the second earthquake, have been very ‘difficult’.

52 31 Two Toilets And 2 Houses

Two toilets and water systems survive but not the houses.

All partners agree that the highest priority work is to provide shelter before the wet season commences in less than a month. The work   commenced in the three villages that participated and completed the Village Sanitation Program over the last 7 years is as follows. Later we will post the plans for long term reconstruction.

Immediate action 

Shelter for families before the wet season – the June, July monsoon rains.
Restore sanitation – local water collection, storage and supply and the safe disposal of human waste.
• Building places for families to store, prepare and cook food.
Supplying personal health items – towels, soap, toothbrush and paste, cooking and eating utensils, bed nets and blankets.

A brief description of each of the above follows.

Shelter for families

Shelters of corrugated steel sheet (3.6x3m) are being erected by a local NGO in one of the three villages most affected by the earthquake. Over 100 shelters are underway and over 30 are already completed. In the other two villages, 40 packs of 6 x 2.7m long corrugated steel sheets and bamboo structural timbers are being provided to families needing urgent shelter. Construction team members, previously employed by the Sanitation Program in the toilet construction works, are leading the village teams completing these works.

Restore sanitation

Water supply

In the three villages visited over the past few days, the toilets, water tanks and bio-gas and waste systems have all survived remarkably well. Having tested 50 units (over a third of the133 completed in the Program) all but one have a working water catchment, store and supply. House collapse had damaged pipework between the tank and tap and the water tank was removed to prevent damage. It can be reinstated when the pipework is repaired.

The rainwater diverter valves installed to clean the roof water before storing it in the tanks are now ensuring a good, potable, local water supply. In all, 34 of the 50 units have intact, working diverters not damaged by falling bricks or stone and the remainder can be simply repaired.

Removing waste safely 

Of the 50 tested, 40 toilets are being used and are working well. The remaining 10 are being used for the safe storage of personal valuables and / or bedrooms for elderly people. The families of these toilets insist that the toilets worked, were well protected and would be reinstated as soon as possible. Families are presently sharing toilets and storage space.

Some biogas systems have been turned off at the tank as the kitchens inside the houses have been crushed and the stove and all ‘in house’ pipework lost. Most are still working and there appears to be no significant damage above or below ground with 2 minor leaks noted. There have been no fires of explosions as a result of bio-gas.

Septic tank lids, not covered by debris, appear OK, there were no obvious signs (or smells) of waste water and no toilet blockages were found indicating the tanks are probably OK.

Immediate repair of all sanitation facilities, based on the assessments completed, will commence once the required materials are obtained in the next few days.

These water and toilet facilities, built over the past 8 years, are now proving an invaluable asset to these communities. The teams involved in the construction are leading rebuilding efforts and the management skills and trust built with each community provides a valuable starting point for planning both immediate and long-term actions.

47 Close But Still Ok

Bruised but still working OK

42 Toilet As Service Centre

A surviving toilet and water tank is an invaluable water resource for many villagers.

13 Destruction Close By

Many houses were destroyed but the toilet (in the background left) survives.

Store, prepare and cook food. 

With the wet season approaching and only minimal emergency shelter being provided, supplementary places to allow the safe storage, preparation and cooking of food are essential.

Separating food storage preparation and cooking from children, bedding and personal items will improve both fire and food safety. 

5 sheets of 2.7m long corrugated steel sheet and local bamboo structural timber will by supplied to approximately 80 families. 

Proto-type design and construction has commenced and the scarce material is being sourced. The method of construction will leave the iron undamaged for later re-use in the permanent house reconstruction.

Supplying personal health items

Many houses in one of the three villages were totally destroyed by either the first or second major quake. This has meant all the personal possessions of the family are beneath tonnes of rubble. 

The personal items essential in the carrying out of the Healthy Living Practices, that are all involved in the above actions noted above.

HLP 1 Washing people – towels, soap, toothbrush and paste

HLP 3 Removing waste safely 
HLP 4 Improving nutrition – wood stove, pots, water vessels, knives, utensils, storage bins
HLP 6 Reducing the impact of animals, insects and vermin – bed nets

Thanks to all those in Australia and worldwide who have donated to the Nepal project in the past and since the earthquake. It is humbling to stand in a village that has been destroyed and be able to offer some assistance as a result of your generous donations. DON’T STOP! DONATE A LITTLE NOW.

Thanks to the HH team for trying to keep information flowing under difficult conditions, and to Rotary for co-ordinating and encouraging donations.

Thanks to the local Nepali team and the village Committee members, all previously involved in the Sanitation Program, for their immediate on the ground support. The ‘human structures’ built during the years of the Sanitation Program are evident in the trust shown by all parties in planning and implementing action on this crisis.

For more information, pictures and updates also visit out Teeth and Toilets partner site.