Race to reach Nepal earthquake survivors before monsoon rains

Survivors of Nepal's massive earthquake are in a race against time to secure shelter and adequate sanitation before the monsoon rains begin in early June.

Tens of thousands of people have seen their homes flattened or damaged to such an extent that it is not safe for them to return.

Oxfam has been working with the government of Nepal and partners to provide shelter, toilets and clean water in seven of the worst-affected districts. All relief efforts must be stepped up immediately to reach vulnerable people before the rains set in.

There is a danger of waterborne diseases in Nepal in the coming months. In rural areas, a shortage of toilets is forcing many people to defecate in the open. Damage to water pipes means that some people are resorting to drinking untreated water.

There is also a chronic lack of adequate housing. The 7.8-magnitude earthquake and a series of powerful aftershocks damaged up to 90% of the houses in some areas. Families are living under tarpaulins and materials salvaged from the rubble.

Ann Witteveen, Oxfam Canada's Humanitarian Manager said: "The scale of this disaster is only now becoming apparent. Poverty levels in Nepal were very high even before the earthquake and in every disaster it is the poorest and most vulnerable members of society who suffer most."
"Oxfam is particularly concerned about single women, many of whom are heads of their household as their husbands work in neighbouring countries, the elderly and lower-caste members of society in very remote areas that can only be reached by foot."

Oxfam has announced relief plans to reach 430,000 people as quickly as possible with a $32 million programme, focusing largely on water and sanitation work. In the first week since the earthquake it has secured around $22 million mainly from the generosity of publics around the world but desperately needs more funds to continue this vital work and with the rainy season just around the corner, there is no time to waste. Nepal is one of the world's poorest countries and it is not equipped to deal with this crisis alone.

Media Contact:
Melanie Gallant
Phone: (613) 240-3047

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