When locals in the Nepali village of Bhumlichowk examined the devastation wrought by the earthquake that struck on April 25, killing thousands and wounding tens of thousands throughout the country, they noticed a curious pattern.
While parts of the hamlet that is home to the indigenous Shapang people were lightly damaged, others were completely destroyed.
A particular cluster of some 20 homes perched on a ridge was flattened.
“Why did every house crumble?” asked Dunnbahabur, a local mason.
On hand were staff experts from the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC) and its partner group, the All India Disaster Mitigation Institute (AIDMI), to help explain.
“The precarious topography coupled with malleable mud soil in the area meant the houses moved much more dramatically during the quake,” said an AIDMI expert architect that was part of the team.
Rebuilding homes in a way that will better withstand future tremors would require improved construction techniques using longer cross beams, better joints, and concrete pillars.
Time is now of the essence. Once the monsoon season begins in six weeks, the only road to the village will be closed for at least three months. Locals and aid groups will hurry to rebuild temporary shelters for those whose houses before the start of torrential rain.
And they will also gather abundant local materials like wood. Some 500 tarps provided by JDC will help protect the wood and villagers and their valuables from the elements. In addition, JDC’s team handed out 1,000 kilos of rice and other provisions, and 500 hygiene kits.
JDC’s emergency work in Bhumlichowk, and the badly hit Gorkha region it is part of, is aimed at mitigating suffering caused by the biggest quake to hit the South Asian country in 80 years.
As hope has died out to find more survivors under the rubble, JDC has entered its second phase of humanitarian assistance. Measures have been taken to help survivors of the disaster by handing out food, hygiene products, medicine and other supplies in great need.
“Over the past few days I’ve seen widespread misery and destruction, particularly in the inaccessible villages of rural Nepal,” said Sam Amiel, a senior member of JDC’s disaster response team in Nepal. “Some locations are so remote we’ve had to manually carry goods over narrow suspended bridges straddling deep gorges. Delivering badly needed goods to survivors of the quake is not just critical to their survival, it’s a mitzvah, a good deed, benefiting the victims of this unprecedented disaster.”
Soon, the long process of reconstruction and rehabilitation will begin and JDC – in conjunction with its partners including AIDMI, the Afya Foundation,Tevel B’Tzedek, Sarvodaya – Teach for Nepal (TFN) and new local partners – is ready to help heal the physical and mental wounds inflicted by the quake as well as mitigate damage of future quakes that are inevitable in this tectonically active part of the world.
Its current work in Nepal is part of relief and long-term assistance work JDC has done for victims of natural and manmade disasters around the globe, including the Philippines, Haiti, Japan, and South Asia after the Indian Ocean Tsunami. JDC continues to operate programs designed to rebuild infrastructure and community life in disaster-stricken regions.