Nepal & the 2015 Earthquake
Nepal is a mountainous country in South Asia with a population of 26 million people. There are many different ethnic groups but the majority of citizens speak the Nepali language. Katmandu is the nation's capital and largest city.
Geography / Population Without any outlets to oceans or seas, Nepal is bordered by China to the north and India to the south, east, and west. It is fully within the Himalayan mountain range, which has eight of the world's tallest mountains, including Mount Everest, the highest point on Earth. Everest and the other peaks generate a substantial portion of foreign income from climbing enthusiasts and the tourist trade. More than 75% of the population is engaged in subsitence farming or agriculture, selling to local markets. Agricultural produce, mostly grown in the region bordering India, includes tea, rice, corn, wheat, sugarcane, milk, and water buffalo meat. Industry mainly involves the processing of these agricultural products. Though Nepal has substantially reduced poverty over the last 10 years the rate of unemployment and underemployment approaches half of the working-age population. Thus, many Nepali citizens move to other countries in search of work and a higher standard of living. Few homes outside of the major cities have electrical power or indoor plumbing and the lack of clean drinking water, especially in rural mountainous areas, contributes to high levels of waterborne diseases and disabling conditions.
Government Originally a monarchy, the Nepali government is now a representative democracy. The country struggles with the transition from a monarchy to a republic. Nepal is strategically important due to its location between Asia's great powers, China and India. It has signed friendship treaties with India and the United Kingdom.
Religion The countries main religion is Hinduism, but the founder of Buddhism, Siddharta Gautama, was born in southern Nepal. Other religions in the country are Tibetan Buddhism, Islam and Christianity. Shiva is regarded as the guardian deity of the country’s millions of Hindu believers. Nepal is also home to the famous Lord Shiva temple, where Hindus from all over the world come for pilgrimage. The holy Buddhist site of Lumbini is bordered by a large monastic zone, in which only monasteries can be built. Buddhism is also the dominant religion of the thinly populated northern areas, which are mostly inhabited by Tibetan-related peoples, such as the Sherpa. Differences between Hindus and Buddhists are minimal in Nepal due to the historical blending of Hindu and Buddhist beliefs and the faiths share many common temples and worship many of the same deities.
The 2015 Earthquake
What Happened? On April 25, 2015, a violent 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal—followed weeks later by a 7.3-magnitude aftershock—killing almost 9,000 people, injuring 22,000, and damaging or destroying nearly 800,000 homes. A year later, some of the debris had been cleared away, but very little reconstruction had taken place. Among the worst-hit districts was Sindhupalchok - where more than 2,000 died. In the capital, Kathmandu, more than 1,000 perished. Mount Everest was also struck by deadly avalanches after the quake.
Across Nepal, nearly 650,000 families were displaced and forced to abandon their homes and communities to live in relief camps where they could seek food and shelter. The earthquake was a result of a violent slippage caused by enormous strain and pressure developing along the convergence of the Indian and Eurasian tectonic plates. These plates coming together have also caused the land to be forced up over millions of years slowly creating the Himalyan mountain ranges. The quake was so powerful it actually moved Mount Everest by more than an inch. It was the worst natural disaster to befall Nepal in more than eight decades. The economic impact has been estimated at around $7 billion. Here are some images published by the National Geographic organization immediately after the earthquake and some photographs of the destruction and subsequent rebuilding published by the Atlantic Monthly magazine a year after the quake. Here are some YouTube videos of the earthquake during the trembling and after. Live Aftermath
The Aftermath Rebuidling has been slow and plagued by delays and lack of funding. The government did not have the funds or infrastructure to tackle the enormous task of rebuidling cities, town, temples, and houses throughout the country. The relief camps are still very full across the country and much of the international aid for feeding the inhabitants has all but dried up as the months roll by. There is also a lack of professional tradesmen and construction firms available to rebuild the hundreds of thousands of buildings damaged in the quake. Most homes and buildings are decades if not hundreds of years old and were not built to withstand strong earthquakes. In fact, a year after the quake some communities were still looking for missing persons amid the rubble and destruction.
Who is Helping? The task of clearing up has been helped thanks to a number of charity organizations and relief funds including a Red Cross International Cash for Work program in which neighbours have worked together to clear away the ruins of each house in their community in exchange for 600 Rupees per day. The program has served an important social and economic purpose. Many people are keen to clear the debris before the major Dashain holiday in October 2016 and earn some much needed money to pay for food, water and other essentials. “We can see that Cash for Work support is very useful in post-disaster settings”, says Nepal Red Cross Secretary General, Dev Ratna Dhakwa. “It is giving people a much-needed boost as the country knuckles down to the task of beginning the rebuilding process.”
There is also the Dhurmus Suntali Foundation of Sindhupalchok district which has funded the building of earthquake resisitent, environment-friendly housing that will be given to local earthquake survivors. The United States has donated $700,000 for seismic strengthening and restoration of the early 20th century Gaddi Baithak palace which will help improve the buildings structural safety and earthquake resistance. The structure was badly damaged in the massive earthquakes last year and is the cornerstone of the Durbar Square – a UNESCO heritage site. Scores of countries, including the Untied States, also sent search and rescue teams or donated money to the relief effort immediately after the devastation.
What can you do? Visit the dZi Foundation website !!!!!
Created by Scott Fletcher, Library Director from articles on Wikipedia, BBC Online, Atlantic Online, CNN Photos from Wikimedia Commons and Grolier Online Encyclopedia (subscription use permitted)