Nepal: Emergency Assistance to the Major Earthquake - Assessment in the Mountainous Area Struck by the Earthquake

AAR Japan’s emergency assistance team (Noriyasu OKAYAMA and Fukuro KAKIZAWA) have been actively working on-site since April 29th to assist the victims of the powerful earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25th. On May 3rd, Chiaki FURUKAWA and Natsuki MATSUMOTO joined the team. Currently, the operation is led by these four staff members.

Having assessed the situation, the team decided to focus its aid activities in Dhading District, a mountainous area located in the west of Kathmandu. Three members visited the district on May 4th. Here is the latest report from the site.

To the quake struck mountainous region

Approximately 10 days have passed since the massive earthquake. While the urban areas of Kathmandu slowly return to normal, there has been a delay in relief efforts reaching the gravely damaged mountainous regions due to their geographical inaccessibility. AAR Japan has been working to reach out to such areas since the earthquake took place. Gorkha District, in which AAR initially considered focusing its activity, is already receiving aid from various organizations. In order to distribute aid resources more effectively, the AAR Japan team decided instead to target its operations in Dhading District, which is located five hours by car to the west of Kathmandu. More than half of the 70,000 families there are said to be affected, yet relief efforts in the area have so far fallen short.

Dhading District, marked on the map. The district is located approximately five hours from Kathmandu by car. 
On May 4th, three members of AAR Japan’s emergency response team departed Kathmandu for Dhading, while KAKIZAWA, who is in charge of procuring supplies, stayed behind. The road to Dhading is marked by a narrow mountain path. In Dhading, we spoke with Koirela and her family, who now shelter themselves in front of their collapsed home. Their extended family used to live nearby, divided into several households. As most of their houses were destroyed by the quake, they now live in tents provided by aid organizations.   Bunu Koirela (age 11) told us, “The earthquake was really scary, but we all ran out in a hurry, and so no one got hurt.” Deepshika (age 5 months), the youngest member of the family, was on the second floor of the building with the mother when the quake struck. As the house begun to crumble, the mother threw the baby out of the window in order to save her, and the older brother outside caught her safely.

In the district capital, Dhading Besi, the extent of damage to the houses appeared greater than in Kathmandu.  AAR Japan visited the officer in charge at the local government office and discussed the extent of the damage and potential aid activities. Based on this discussion and coordination with the local government, AAR Japan will distribute necessities, such as tarpaulins, and food for those affected within Dhading District. We would like to ask for your continuous support for our relief efforts as we begin to step up our operations in the region. 

Ms. Koirela’s home was destroyed by the quake. She saved the five-month old baby by throwing her out of the window of the second floor. Chiaki FURUKAWA of AAR Japan is pictured on the left. (Dhading District, May 4th, 2015)
In Dhading Besi, the capital of Dhading District, a greater number of buildings had collapsed due to the earthquake than in Kathmandu. Noriyasu OKAYAMA of AAR Japan (left) talking with a local resident. (Dhading Besi, May 4th, 2015) 
AAR Japan’s Noriyasu OKAYAMA (left) and Chiaki FURUKAWA (right) survey the current stocks and prices of various goods in a shop. (Dhading District, May 4th, 2015).
A hotel room in Dhading Besi being used as a shelter. (Dhading Besi, 4th May 2015)

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Chiaki FURUKAWA, AAR Japan Tokyo Headquarter
After graduating from university, FURUKAWA worked for a human resource consultancy, among other companies, before going on to obtain a master’s degree in international development in the UK. After graduation she joined AAR Japan and was assigned to the Haiti Office in October 2010. She has been in charge of Afghanistan, Myanmar and Philippines operations since January 2012. (Born in Osaka) (Profile as of the date of the article)

Japanese-English translation by Ms. Hanano Sasaki
English editing by Ms. Fiona Chan

The article on this page has been translated by volunteers as part of the AAR Japan's Volunteer Programme. Their generous contributions allow us to spread our activities and ideas globally, through an ever-growing selection of our reports from the field.