The flow of aid money to Nepal is slowing down only one month after 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Kathmandu Valley and killed more than 8,600 people. Aid groups and the United Nations warn that the financial slowdown threatens the ability of humanitarian groups to support the 2.8 million people in need of assistance.
Especially concerning is the approaching monsoon season. Some of the areas most affected by the earthquakes are extremely vulnerable to flooding and landslides. A landslide over the weekend blocked the river in Myagdi District causing a flood and forcing people to evacuate. The potential for landslides and floods increase with the coming rain, posing a direct risk to people already vulnerable and the ability of aid groups to reach them.
“We don’t have much time left to achieve what we set out to accomplish,” said Jamie McGoldrick, U.N. resident coordinator in Nepal, to the media. “But with the right support at the right time, we can assist people who desperately need our help, even those in the remote hard-to-reach places.”
Only 22 percent of the U.N. $423 million appeal for Nepal is funded. The money that is making it to Nepal is not reaching the places with the greatest need. As Melody Schreiber reported for Humanosphere earlier this month, the Nepali government is struggling to deal with the influx of money. Some organizations are exploiting a loophole to get money directly. But that may not be enough.
The delay in aid will directly affect survivors like Tanak Lama, who is sleeping with his family outside of Bir hospital. They’re waiting for Lama’s sister-in-law, Anatari Lama Bal, to be treated for head wounds. Back home, their goats are buried, their house is gone. They don’t even have a tent to camp under.
“I really don’t know what we’ll do when we get back,” Lama says.
Concerning is the fact that all the hard work and accomplishments over the past month may go to waste due to a lack of funding. The International Organization for Migration (IOM) warned yesterday that it is unable to deliver assistance to some people, despite having built the capacity to do so. Its estimated budget is only 20 percent funded, said the group.
“We’re about to fail in our commitment to ensure rural families have the tools they need to survive the monsoon, which starts in two weeks, and then the approaching winter,” says IOM Nepal Chief of Mission Maurizio Busatti, in a news release. “It is incredibly frustrating to have hammered together a solid platform from which to deliver aid, identified dedicated staff and volunteers, and secured the commitment of local government, only to find that the cupboards are bare.”
Immediate needs include providing shelter and other assistance to 860,000 people. The initial earthquake on April 25 and another on May 12 destroyed more than 500,000 houses, according to U.N. estimates. Efforts to reach people in remote parts of Nepal are improving, with the government and aid groups issuing announcements for new areas reached. Continued support for relief is essential.
“The talk now is about reconstruction, but we are trying to remind people that in between search and rescue and recovery, there is a phase called relief and we can’t forget that,” said McGoldrick to the Thompson Reuters Foundation.