30 April, 2015 - Nepal quake: Heavy rains to worsen humanitarian crisis

Plan International Australia staff in Australia and in Nepal, communications permitting, are available for interviews and to give updates on the situation in the Pacific. Please contact Adam Cathro on 0488 202 945 to arrange.

The humanitarian crisis in Nepal could be made substantially worse by heavy rains in areas affected by the massive earthquake last weekend, says child rights organisation and NGO Plan International Australia. There is now an increased risk of large numbers of children and their families getting sick due to water and sanitation issues. People need to receive emergency shelter materials as soon as possible, warns Plan.

With so many buildings damaged or destroyed, there are few places for people to shelter and sleep, which is becoming a serious issue as temperatures plummet and the rains begin to fall, even before the onset of the annual monsoon season in June.

Rain is forecast in several parts of the country until the weekend, especially in the eastern

Families in remote areas, where emergency services have struggled to reach, are at greatest risk. Exposure to the elements is a particular threat to already vulnerable groups like children and the elderly, while adverse weather will hamper rescue efforts and could lead to landslides.

“While emergency responders have been doing an excellent job reaching many affected communities, there are some areas that are near impossible to get to as a result of landslides and damage to roads and bridges,” says Mattias Bryneson, Plan Nepal Country Director.

We’re talking about families who now don’t have so much as a tarpaulin to sleep beneath, so they have to improvise and find a way to survive until they can get emergency supplies,” Bryneson says.

“Tarpaulins and temporary shelters can save lives. If people, especially children, are exposed to bad weather all day and night, you’ll be damp, wet, dirty and freezing cold – and the spread of illness will exacerbate this humanitarian crisis.”

“These problems are made all the more worse when you consider that clean water is in short supply,” he adds.

Providing shelter to communities in need is an immediate priority as Plan moves into the initial stages of its emergency response, with a strong focus on those communities that are hardest to reach.

Plan is currently distributing emergency shelter materials in Makwanpur District and in commencing distribution today in Sindhuli District. In the coming days, Plan will distribute tarpaulins and blankets to over 2,000 families in Makawanpur, Sindhuli, and Kathmandu.

“Much more is needed. It’s a race against time to get adequate shelter before kids and their families get sick and this gets worse… because the monsoons are just around the corner,” says Bryneson.

As part of the first wave of response, Plan will distribute emergency household kits to families in the worst affected areas. These kits contain materials for shelter, like a mattress and a tarpaulin, as well blankets and a mosquito net. All of these items will help protect families while work continues on more solid structures for people to sleep in.

Australians can donate to Plan’s Nepal earthquake appeal by visiting plan.org.au or by ringing 13 75 26.

Photos from Nepal can be downloaded here: bit.ly/plannepalquake. Please credit ‘Plan International Australia’.

Editors’ notes:
Plan is one of the oldest and largest children's development organisations in the world, founded 77 years ago, working in 51 developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Americas and supported by 21 donor countries. Plan is independent, with no religious, political or governmental affiliations.

Media contact: Adam Cathro, Plan International Australia, Media Relations Manager, 0488 202 945