(PNS) April 25, 2018, marks three years since the first of two powerful earthquakes rocked the country of Nepal, leaving thousands dead or homeless and millions in need of humanitarian assistance. Recently, Luke Asikoye, international associate with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA), traveled to the country to assess recovery efforts and talk with survivors.
One of Asikoye’s first stops was to review a recovery project in some of Nepal’s mountainous regions.
“The people of Nepal are hardworking. They farm on the mountain side which is very difficult,” he said. “The landscape makes it challenging to get water to their crops, forcing them to go down the mountain and transport the water back up,” noting women often travel long distances to wash clothes.
Asikoye said one of the ways church partners help is to share rain harvesting methods, especially helpful during the country’s wet season.
“During the monsoon period, it can be impossible to get from place to place,” he said. “Sometimes it rains for days. Roads are simple pathways and the heavy rain can cause mudslides, often blocking the paths and you could be stuck there for days.”
Rice is a major food source for the country and farmers spend an exorbitant amount of time transporting rice to be milled. PDA, through its partners, is sponsoring the purchase of rice mills.
“We don’t go there with solutions, our approach is to work from the bottom up,” said Asikoye. Working in partnership with local government and organizations, we are simply supporting them with agricultural techniques to help them achieve a high yield.”
The quake struck just west of the Nepali capital of Kathmandu and caused avalanches around Mount Everest in 2015. Forty of the 75 districts in Nepal were affected, some of them severely in the central and hilly regions say government leaders.
The government estimates a price tag of $9.4 billion to rebuild everything. Officials say only a small fraction of the total number of people left homeless have been able to return to their homes. A majority continue to live in recovery camps and villages.
by Rick Jones, Presbyterian News Service