How NGOs – And You – Can Help Nepal
As the tremors faded, aid officials and victims of the April 25 earthquake in Nepal began taking stock of the destruction and pain left in the disaster’s wake. Nearly 5,000 people are thought to have perished, with over 9,000 injured and up to 8 million directly impacted by the 7.8 magnitude earthquake.
In the capital city of Kathmandu, many people are sleeping out in the open, avoiding the danger posed by damaged and destroyed buildings. Makeshift tent cities surround the capital. Lingering threats include landslides, one of which claimed the lives of as many as 200 people in the days following the earthquake.
According to a spokesperson from World Vision – an aid group – landslides are one of the most pressing concerns at this juncture: “Villages . . . are routinely affected by landslides, and it’s not uncommon for entire villages of 200, 300, up to 1,000 people to be completely buried by rock falls.” With the geological stress from the earthquake, more of these may occur in the coming days.
Nepal is among the poorest nations on earth, and has inadequate resources and infrastructure to cope with the tall challenges facing it. To make matters worse, the country is also remote and geographically isolated. Some villages are extremely inaccessible, posing difficulty for aid providers, rescue teams, and government agencies.
With the severity of the crisis and Nepal’s preexisting poverty, commentators are making inevitable comparisons to the 2010 Haiti earthquake. Writing for the Nonprofit Quarterly, Rick Cohen points out a number of considerations that NGOs need to make in order to avoid mistakes and controversies that arose from relief efforts in Haiti. It is essential for NGOs to work closely with Nepalese authorities, he writes, and not “bypass them as they did so often in the case of Haiti.” Accountability is also an issue, with NGO self-regulation in underdeveloped countries often resulting in poor oversight.
Lastly, Cohen remarks that “[n]o State Farm or Allstate is going to rebuild the homes of people who lost their shelter,” and that the “millions of Nepalese affected by the earthquake need to be helped back beyond where they were.”
Though seemingly cavalier to state now, this disaster may be an opportunity for long-term improvements for the Nepalese people, as well as a chance for NGOs to shore up infrastructure and operations to help in this process.
There are a number of ways you can help. These vetted organizations are accepting donations for relief efforts.