On 25 April and 12 May 2015, huge earthquakes hit Nepal.
Their aftermath was devastating. Over 5.6 million people were affected.
But the Red Cross was ready to help.
Being prepared made the difference
Our staff and volunteers knew what to do. They had three years of practice through our project to support people in 66 communities in the Kathmandu Valley when disaster struck.
Six months before the earthquakes, this girl rehearsed how to protect herself if tremors shook her school.
In the first few days
Red Cross volunteers provided lifesaving search and rescue, first aid and supplies within minutes of the earthquakes.
In Bhaktapur district alone, the Red Cross used materials stored at our facility to help 800 households in the first 24 hours after the earthquake.
The Red Cross’ solar powered and earthquake resistant blood bank was completed just days before the earthquakes.
Afterwards, it was able to store and supply blood for the Kathmandu Valley’s hospitals thanks to its solar power.
Generous supporters across the UK began to donate to our emergency appeal.
Over the next few weeks and months
After the first shock of a disaster, ‘normal’ life has to resume somehow.
When you have lost everything, even the smallest tasks like washing and cleaning your teeth can become difficult.
The Red Cross distributed necessities to thousands of families including:
- 110,000 tarpaulins or tents for families whose homes were destroyed or damaged
- 38,289 hygiene kits – including soap, sanitary pads, bath towels, toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrushes and razors – for people who had lost their homes.
We also built 1,315 emergency toilets to replace those that had been destroyed.
Over 29,000 people learned how to stay healthy in the emergency.
We helped to raise awareness among school children of the importance of hand washing and gave guidance on using hygiene kits properly.
Here, Red Cross volunteers distribute water purification tablets to people living in a temporary camp in Bhaktapur.
During the next six months
The earthquakes destroyed not only homes but also people’s livelihoods.
Small farmers were particularly badly hit as they didn’t have the resources to replace their lost crops and equipment.
The Red Cross gave 3,000 farm families cash grants of around £34 to buy seeds and tools to plant their fields again.
For the winter, cash grants of around £68 helped 50,000 families buy blankets and warm clothes.
They could also buy materials to repair their homes or temporary shelters.
Since many health centres were destroyed, mobile clinics treated patients and gave out prescriptions.
Clinics could see nearly 100 patients in a three-hour session.
This boy sliced open his heel on a sheet of corrugated iron and needed stitches.
An unexpected side effect of the earthquake is that many streams dried up, their courses changing deep underground.
Many other water sources were destroyed or damaged.
The Red Cross helped people get the clean drinking water they needed:
- 4 million litres of water were supplied through tankers
- we gave out over 70,000 jerry cans so people could carry water
Recovery into the future
Recovery work has started and the Red Cross will help people ‘build back better’.
This means new homes will be less likely to collapse in future earthquakes.
It means creating secure and safe water sources and rebuilding village health centres.
And it means helping people prepare for future emergencies.
These men are building model houses that will be more resistant to future earthquakes.
Training for local carpenters and masons will help local people use the safe building techniques for their own new homes.
The Red Cross has worked in Nepal since 1963 and our work will continue until the job is done.
Thank you to everyone who supported the British Red Cross Nepal earthquake appeal, which helped to make this work possible.
- Find out more about earthquake recovery in Nepal
- From garden to plate in Nepal
- Happy birthday Nishan – one family’s story of courage and strength in Nepal
- The British Red Cross Disaster Fund means we’ll be ready to help in future emergencies.
Photographs © British Red Cross; Danish Red Cross/Poul Henning Nielsen; Finnish Red Cross/Minna Passi and Jarkko Mikkonen; IFRC/Carlo Heathcote, Lucy Keating, Palani Mohan and Carl Whetham; Emil Helotie