Supporting landslide victims in NepalPublished: Feb 23, 2021 Reading time: 4 minutes
The last monsoon season was a difficult one in Nepal, as it triggered a number of dangerous landslides. People in Need (PIN), in partnership with the European Union, has been supporting vulnerable communities affected by landslides in the Sindhupalchowk, Dhading, and Gorkha districts through the “Landslide Emergency Response” project. As a result of this project, PIN, together with its local partner, Phase Nepal, has provided shelter kits to 140 displaced households, and non-food items to 180 households.
Shelter kits contain corrugated galvanised iron (CGI) sheets, plain sheeting, and tarpaulins for the construction of temporary housing. In addition, 200 households received dignity kits, and 105 households received winterisation kits, which include fleece blankets, a sleeping mat, a plastic sack, a jacket, gloves, a woollen scarf, a cap, and a solar-powered flashlight.
Khadga Kumari Khadka, a 62-year-old resident of Ghumthang Village in the Barhabise Municipality of the Sindhupalchowk District, says: “I thought I’d spend the rest of my life seeking shelter, but thanks to the PIN project, I have a roof over my head."
Khadka and her husband, who rely on agriculture for their livelihood, were adversely affected by two natural disasters in a span of just five years. The massive earthquake in 2015 severely damaged their two-story home, completely destroying the top floor. With the little savings they had from selling seasonal vegetables, they rehabilitated their house. Slowly, the family recovered and returned to their normal lives. But the monsoon last year upended their lives again, as a huge landslide in September 2020 destroyed their land and their home.
No home to call her own
Khadka recounts the landslide: “I vividly remember the day; it was midnight on Saturday. We were sleeping and my husband heard an unusual sound and went outside to see what it was. He saw the railing fall apart and quickly realised that the landslide had hit our village. He started shouting and calling my name so that I’d come out of the house."
She adds: "We ran for safety. My husband’s right leg was hit by stones and he immediately fell down. He was unable to move so I dragged him until we were in a safer place. While dragging him, stones hit my back as well. With the help of the villagers, we took him to Kathmandu for treatment. The doctor said his veins were damaged so he cannot move. After staying in the hospital for a few days, I came back to the village, leaving him with my daughter.” The couple’s daughters are married – they live in different parts of Barhabise Municipality – while their son lives in Ghumthang Village with his family.
After returning home, Khadka felt helpless and hopeless. Her house was damaged, her land washed away, and her husband was struggling for his life in the hospital. She requested a tent in the Nagpuje displacement site, however, the camp committee asked her to live there with her son, who had moved to the camp soon after the landslide. Rather than living with her son and his family, to stay away from family disputes, she took refuge in her neighbor’s home so that everyone lives peacefully.
Khadka received support from different agencies and the government in the form of food, non-food items, some cash, and other forms of support. This was helpful; however, she still did not have a home of her own. Her husband’s treatment and their economic situation forced her to sideline her dreams of rebuilding their home once more.
It is a temporary shelter, but it is mine
Khadka utilised kits received from PIN to build a temporary shelter in an area that is more protected from landslides. She constructed one room, a kitchen, and a toilet using the CGI she received, together with some of the old CGI from her damaged house. She was also given one of the winterisation kits being distributed as part of the project.
“I am beyond thankful to the project team for their support,” she says. “Even though it’s a temporary shelter, it's my own, and I can stay here peacefully without worrying about my sleeping arrangements. I can’t wait for my husband to be back home. He is living with my daughter in the city while he continues to undergo treatment, but I am hopeful he’ll be back soon.”