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A look back: Five years of support to those impacted by the Nepal earthquake

Red Cross workers standing next to damaged buildings in Nepal
Damage from 7.8 magnitude earthquake in Bhaktapur, Nepal on April 25th, 2015. Palani Mohan / IFRC
Field hospital tents set up on the mountain side
The Canadian Red Cross Emergency Field Hospital in Dhunche, Nepal.
A Red Cross doctor is examining a patient's eye.
Dr. Kim de Souza examines a patient at the Red Cross Emergency Field Hospital in Dhunche, Nepal. Nicole Robicheau / IFRC
Villager with livestock
Urmila is among villagers benefitting from Red Cross efforts, having received training in rearing livestock. She received a baby buffalo to help her earn money and make enough nutrient-rich milk to feed her children. Canadian Red Cross / Marko Kokic
A volunteer measures the arm width of a child
A Nepal Red Cross volunteer measures the arm width of a child to check for malnutrition. This is one of the interventions the Nepal Red Cross is doing in earthquake affected areas with support from Canadian Red Cross. Canadian Red Cross / Marko Kokic
Red Cross staff stand for the national anthem
Canadian Red Cross, Nepal Red Cross and IFRC staff stand for the Nepali National Anthem at the handover ceremony of the Rasuwa District Hospital to the Nepal Ministry of Health. Courtney Wilson / Canadian Red Cross
Woman in labour being carried on a stretcher
A woman in labour is brought into the hospital in an ambulance. The Rasuwa District Hospital sees a lot of women in labour. Courtney Wilson / Canadian Red Cross
A woman and her grandchild play on a swingset
Susant and his grandmother play at a playground set outside a health post, one of 12 child-friendly spaces established by the Canadian and Nepal Red Cross Societies since the 2015 earthquake. Nathalie Batres / Canadian Red Cross
An ambulance with driver and paramedic
Chun Bahadar Rana Magar (driver) and Dinesh Nepal (paramedic) operate one of three new ambulances funded by the Canadian Red Cross in Sindhupalchowk district, Nepal. Nathalie Batres / Canadian Red Cross

Five years ago today, a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, killing approximately 9,000 people and injuring more than 20,000. The earthquake destroyed over 600,000 homes, damaged healthcare facilities, destroyed crops and decimated livestock.

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, the Canadian Red Cross set up its emergency field hospital in Dhunche, Nepal. The field hospital provided critical medical care, including surgical care, in an area where the local hospital had been severely damaged. In four months, over 5,400 patients were treated.

Canadian Red Cross programming in Nepal went far beyond the emergency stage of the operation. Over the last five years, we’ve worked closely alongside the Nepal Red Cross Society and other partners to continue supporting those impacted by the earthquake. Let’s take a look back at some of the work that’s been done over the last five years:

One year later

By April 2016, three million people impacted by the earthquake had received emergency support from the global Red Cross relief operation, including first aid, clean water, food, tarpaulins and other essential items. That includes 5,000 families receiving cash grants ahead of the winter season and 2,000 receiving emergency shelter materials.

After year one, the key priorities for longer-term recovery were shelter, medical care, livelihood support and water and sanitation. To this end, construction had also begun on a new health facility in Dhunche to replace the hospital that was damaged by the earthquake which the Canadian Red Cross supported.

Two years later

As construction continued on the new health facility in Dhunche, the Nepal Red Cross Society, in partnership with the Canadian Red Cross and other Red Cross National Societies, continued working to improve access to healthcare in the affected regions. This included providing trainings for healthcare professionals in Nepal, providing first aid training to community members, developing a field clinic to respond to outbreaks of water-borne diseases and supporting the strengthening of emergency and trauma systems across Nepal.

In addition to this healthcare support, the Nepal Red Cross Society continued to support programs related to water and sanitation, shelter, women and children’s health, and combating malnutrition. This included constructing water points, rehabilitating and constructing latrines, and providing cash grants to families to rebuild their homes and support livelihoods.

Three years later

In December 2017, after two-and-a-half years of construction made difficult by the region’s mountainous terrain, the newly constructed health facility in Dhunche was handed over to the Ministry of Health and welcomed its first patients. The hospital was constructed as an earthquake-resistant structure to help protect it during future earthquakes.

The Red Cross continued to support those impacted by the earthquake in other ways as well, including providing cash grants and water and sanitation programming. Community-led Water User Committees helped make clean water more accessible for many communities and provided a potential source of income. Two trainings for Nepal Red Cross Society personnel focusing on how to deploy and operate the Red Cross field clinic were held in 2018.

Four years later

Through the Rural Emergency and Trauma Systems Strengthening (RETSS) project, the Nepal Red Cross Society and the Canadian Red Cross continued to make healthcare more accessible in rural Nepal. This included providing emergency and trauma training to healthcare professionals, upgrading ambulance services and purchasing equipment for health outposts.

Through the Violence Prevention and Response project, the Nepal Red Cross Society was also able to open 12 child-friendly spaces at rural health posts. The spaces are intended to encourage parents and children to visit health posts more regularly, and help children feel more comfortable.

Five years later and onward

Much of the programming implemented by the Nepal Red Cross Society over the last five years will support their operations for many years to come. As new opportunities to support arise, the Nepal Red Cross Society and their Red Cross partners are working to create a more efficient framework for future programming.

The Canadian Red Cross is currently assisting the Nepal Red Cross Society with its COVID-19 response. This has included advising on infection prevention and control measures for ambulances, training community health volunteers, distributing materials to communities and providing funding.
Support to areas impacted by the earthquake also continues; while priority was given to the most affected areas, programming has now expanded to support other regions that, while less impacted, are still recovering.

The Red Cross response to the Nepal Earthquake, both in the immediate aftermath and in the years following, was made possible thanks to the generosity of Canadians and the Government of Canada.
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