Displaced Nepal Quake Survivors Move to Larger Sites, But Aid Gaps, Insecurity Persist
Nepal - Three months after the devastating Nepal earthquake, a new IOM report shows that internally displaced people (IDPs) are consolidating in fewer, larger sites, but important service and security gaps remain, even as aid agencies race to distribute critically needed supplies.
The 7.8 magnitude April 25 earthquake and a powerful aftershock on May 12 claimed the lives of over 8,800 people, destroyed 600,000 homes and damaged a further 280,000 in 14 districts, including the capital Kathmandu. The UN estimates 2.8 million people still need humanitarian aid.
The third IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), released this week, shows that the number of sites hosting over 50 households has dropped from 77 to 66, while their population has grown from roughly 49,000 to over 53,000. Some 104 of the 286 locations assessed in May remain open, suggesting many people are opting to return to the places where their homes once stood, typically within a 30-minute walk of the sites.
The DTM reports that only 42 per cent of the locations surveyed have designated site committees, one-third have no electricity, and lighting around latrines and public spaces is inadequate or non-existent in 84 per cent of sites assessed.
It also reveals that women in over a third (34 per cent) of the settlements do not feel safe, and just seven of the sites surveyed had designated safe/social areas for women. Twenty-six per cent of men and 30 per cent of children said they felt unsafe. While 80 per cent of the sites report there are educational opportunities for children, fewer than a quarter had play areas.
“As we look downstream for more durable solutions to help hundreds of thousands of displaced people get through the winter months, we cannot lose sight of the fact that there are significant needs that are not yet being met in locations where they have come seeking help and security,” said acting IOM Nepal Chief of Mission Tom Sinkovits. “The security concerns of women in particular must be addressed quickly and effectively. Clearly there is much work to be done.”
The DTM is an information management tool that monitors the status and location of IDPs in temporary displacement sites, gathering information about humanitarian needs and aid gaps. The data is gathered through interviews with key informants in each location and small group discussions with displaced men, women and children. Additional data collected for a detailed Return Intention Survey is being finalized for release next week.
In addition to managing the onward distribution of massive volumes of donor aid in the early weeks of the emergency following the April 25 quake, IOM has mobilized its own donor resources to ship almost 190,000 sheets of badly needed corrugated iron (CGI) roofing for distribution by humanitarian partners. A further 110,000 CGI sheets are now en route to Nepal.
IOM has also delivered over 112,000 plastic sheets, 16,800 seven-meter lengths of bamboo and 41,000 blankets to humanitarian partners, for distribution to earthquake victims.
Debris removal and opening transport corridors are also priorities in the three hubs where IOM is focusing its operations – Gorkha, Chautara and Charikot. To date, 61 badly damaged buildings have been demolished by IOM-led crews using heavy equipment, generating nearly 112,000 cubic meters of rubble that is being removed.
Much of Nepal’s health infrastructure was also destroyed by the quake. An IOM health team has been helping over 700 patients and caregivers to leave hospitals in Kathmandu for secondary care facilities. But for many there is little surviving infrastructure to provide physiotherapy or counseling when they return home. Planning has begun on the creation of an urgently needed, transitional or step-down facility in Sindhupalchok, one of the worst affected areas, to ensure injured survivors receive the support they need closer to home.