Nepal-Red-Cross-helps-older-woman-BLOGIn 2012 the Red Cross began a programme to get people in and around Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, ready for disasters.

It’s part of a country-wide initiative bringing together the Red Cross, the UN, the country’s government, and other organisations.

The wisdom of planning for the worst became horribly clear six months ago, when a huge earthquake struck Nepal.

The epicentre was about 50 miles from Kathmandu, but millions of people in the city were badly affected.

Now a new Red Cross report has shown what the Red Cross programme meant when disaster came.

Digging through the rubble

The report shows that in the aftermath, thousands of people were helped by Red Cross-trained first aid and search and rescue volunteers.

These local people had learnt skills such as rescuing people trapped in rubble – and helping those suffering from shock, burns or broken bones.

Nepal-soldiers-remove-masonry-BLOGMany volunteers had seen their own homes and businesses destroyed, or lost family and friends in the earthquake.

Red Cross disaster expert Heather Fehr says: “There was a lot of guilt felt by some of the volunteers, thinking they hadn’t done enough. When actually they had done a lot.”

Emergency kits were a lifeline

The Red Cross had also stored 10,000 emergency kits across the city to help people when disaster came.
With homes in ruins, basic items such as blankets and tarpaulins were quickly given out to survivors.

The empty containers proved useful too, offering more space to store aid shipped into the country. Other containers were given to the Kathmandu Medical School.

Local people

At the heart of the work in Kathmandu were neighbourhood committees, brought together to plan for disasters.

These groups had worked out local evacuation routes and open spaces where people could head when an earthquake struck. These plans proved useful when the disaster did happen.

Nepal-main-image-BLOGThey also had small budgets to invest in the local area. These were spent on improvements such as solar powered street lights fitted with plug sockets.

Heather Fehr says: “This meant that when people were staying in camps after the earthquake, there was somewhere they could find other people or charge their mobile phones.” With working phones, people could check that friends and loved ones were OK.

Heather added: “So small projects made a very big difference.”

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  • See how pictures and play helped children in Nepal find their voice.