25 October, 2015 - Nepal quake six months on: Thousands of children remain vulnerable

Six months after the earthquake that claimed 9,000 lives and impacted the lives of eight million people, child rights organisation Plan International says children, especially girls, remain among the most vulnerable in Nepal.

Particularly at risk are the many children living at high altitudes in Nepal, who will soon see freezing temperatures as the winter closes in on Nepal for the first time since the earthquakes of April and May.

“Children under 18 make up 44 per cent of the population of Nepal. They are the future of this country, but continue to face challenges as they recover from the earthquakes. From the lack of safe schools to increased child protection concerns, like child marriage, child labour and exploitation, the issues that children face must be prioritised,” says Mattias Bryneson, Country Director for Plan International Nepal.

“Children tend to be more vulnerable in severe weather and are at risk of winter-related illnesses. Winter begins in mid-November; if we do not act fast, children may stop going to school if they are not able to withstand the freezing temperatures,” says Bryneson.

Since the April earthquake, Plan International has supported 255,120 people in Nepal – 106,739 of them children – through the provision of emergency shelter kits, food and water, sanitation facilities and immediate access to temporary learning centres and safe playing spaces for children

“While progress has been made to meet the immediate needs of families, this is still very much temporary: schools need to be rebuilt, people need to restore their livelihoods, families need earthquake-resistant homes and protection during the winter season,” says Bryneson.

Children and their parents living in high altitude areas will reach freezing temperatures starting as early as November, peaking to -10 C and lasting for nearly six months. These are families who live in remote, mountainous parts of the country, often cut-off from humanitarian support. 

Plan International is providing urgent shelter and household materials to 16,000 families living at high altitudes and will equip temporary learning centres with insulation materials so that children can continue to learn in a comfortable school environment during the winter season.

In the last six months, Plan International has built 282 temporary learning centres, enabling 18,353 children to resume their education immediately after the April earthquake. Plan International will convert existing temporary learning centres and child friendly spaces into transitional classrooms while the government constructs new schools. 

In the last six months, Plan International has supported children and communities in the following ways: 18,353 children are now studying in 282 temporary learning centres; 44,000 received psychosocial support, informal education and life skills through 73 child friendly spaces and mobile outreach services; 46,190 families received emergency shelter materials; 13,786 women and children learned about maternal and child health; 40,026 households received safe drinking water kits; 32,652 households benefited from food packs to help meet immediate needs; 5,608 people received employment opportunities to rebuild and restore 600 community assets.