Six months ago, two devastating earthquakes hit Nepal, causing widespread destruction that affected more than 8 million people. In response to this natural disaster, Development and Peace mobilized immediately to work with Caritas Nepal and other members of the Caritas network in providing families and communities with emergency assistance. Fr. Pius Perumana, Director of Caritas Nepal, answers questions on the situation today.
Caritas Nepal director Fr. Pius Perumana took part in an aid distribution to earthquake survivors in Sindhupalchok. Photo by Caritas Nepal
What has Caritas done in the past six months?
In the last six months, our main work was providing materials, like tarpaulin sheets, mats, blankets, and other WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) items, such as buckets, clothes, soap and other items. In a number of villages where there were food shortages, we also distributed food items, and in some villages, we provided tents and rope.
We gave solar lamps to students and to some health facilities, and for a number of schools and families we provided corrugated iron sheets for roofing.
The Caritas family has been able to reach more than 70,000 households in Nepal. It is a great achievement for the Caritas family. Even if we are not a major player, we are almost on par with the government.
What are you proud of in the response so far?
There are so many things to be proud of. One thing is the loyalty and help of our cooperative groups and other various groups we’ve involved. Also the commitment of our staff – the way they worked without a break or holidays.
And also in the past few months, various government agencies, especially the district authorities where we have visited, have praised Caritas’ work so much. They have said, “this is the way NGOs should work.”
Can you tell us a bit about the next phase of Caritas’ work?
What we are thinking in the reconstruction phase is to build at least 3,500 houses. Along with that there will also be other things like livelihoods because people need something to go along, and then WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene), protection and disaster risk reduction as well. We are thinking from a holistic approach.
How has the disaster affected long-term development programs?
Our long-term development programs were mostly based in western Nepal, but we now feel we need to extend some of those programs to the northern hilly districts.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I really would like to thank all our Caritas partners, because it was wonderful how we showed that together, we are more. And in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, the outpouring of sympathy, the messages… I am still receiving messages from various parts of the world!
Also, I am really happy and grateful to our partners that have been actively involved with us. So many Caritas organizations are still with us, giving us support through their personal resources. The response was true teamwork from the entire Caritas family!