On Saturday 25 April 2015, a massive 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. It was followed by hundreds of aftershocks and, just two weeks later, a second 6.7 magnitude earthquake hit. The earthquakes caused widespread destruction in 13 districts, including in the capital Kathmandu, and tragically left nearly 9,000 people dead.
An estimated 8 million people — more than a quarter of the population — have been affected, and at least 600,000 houses were completely destroyed with another 280,000 damaged.
Before the earthquake, about half of Nepal’s 28 million people lived below the poverty line: around one in three people in severe poverty. Nepal is one of the world’s poorest countries and has limited infrastructure and resources to deal with a disaster of this scale.
Oxfam and other organisations began work within hours of the first earthquake and continue to respond to the ongoing humanitarian needs. As the response moves from initial emergency relief to longer-term recovery, ensuring those affected have access to clean water and sanitation, shelter, food and livelihoods support remains our focus.
What is Oxfam doing?
Since the first earthquake hit, Oxfam has been providing emergency relief to communities in seven of the worst affected areas — Gorkha, Nuwakot, Sindhupalchok, Dhading and three districts in Kathmandu. This has included providing clean water, toilets, hygiene kits, emergency shelter, food and rice seeds.
As of 1 April, with the help of our generous supporters and the Australian Government, Oxfam has reached more than 480,000 people including:
- 35,000+ people now have access to clean water
- 49,000+ people have received hygiene kits
- 7,900 toilet have been installed
- 9,700+ people have received emergency food assistance
- 54,000+ people now have emergency shelter kits
- 33,000+ farmers have received rice seeds to restart their livelihoods
Our current response
While communities are beginning to recover from the initial devastation, there is still an enormous need for humanitarian support and ongoing assistance to rebuild homes and livelihoods.
The monsoonal weather (June–September) has made the survivors even more vulnerable, particularly those in remote areas where access is difficult at the best of times and has been made worse by landslides that have destroyed roads. We estimate some 1.4 million people still need food assistance and 2 million people need access to clean water and toilets.
Oxfam partners have provided training to local builders and women in how to build safe temporary shelters and will be carrying out training on earthquake resistant building methods. During the ongoing recovery through the winter months, Oxfam will distribute warm clothing, hot water bottles, mattresses, and blankets as well as items to insulate shelter such as thermal floor mats, tarpaulins and groundsheets.
Shelter for livestock and dry storage for food supplies will also be crucial to ensure communities can survive the winter.
Food and livelihoods
The earthquake affected the livelihoods of around 2.3 million households and 5.6 million workers and has significantly affected farmers and food production, which many communities rely on for their income.
Oxfam’s response is focused on helping families recover quickly by distributing food supplies such as rice, lentils and oil, as well as rice seed, agricultural tools and vouchers for livestock feed so farmers can start growing again quickly.
In a disaster, it is often society’s most vulnerable who are overly affected and in Nepal, women, the elderly, people living with disabilities and female-headed households will find the recovery more challenging.
Oxfam has been working with vulnerable women and girls to ensure they receive the support they need, including installing separate toilets with locks for women and building safe bathing spaces. Re-establishing and strengthening women’s centres is crucial to helping vulnerable women access government support, training and advice.
Oxfam’s work in Nepal before the earthquake
Prior to the earthquake, Oxfam had 60 staff based in Nepal. The country office is in Kathmandu, with field offices in Dedeldura and Surkhet districts. Humanitarian programs include reducing the risk of disasters in flood- prone areas, building the capability of water and sanitation expertise with our partners and reducing the risk of disasters in urban areas.
Oxfam and our partners also carry out work on food security and livelihoods as well as work focusing on the rights of women.
Oxfam has been responding to floods and landslides in Nepal since 1993 and includes earthquake scenario planning in all contingency plans.
Donate to the Nepal appeal
It will take many years to rebuild homes and livelihoods. Donate today to help the people of Nepal.