[Photo Credit: Palani Mohan/International Federation Red Cross and Red Crescent/EPA, via The Guardian]
Nepal needs help – and fast. If you’re thinking about lending a helping hand to the quake-wrecked country, now is the time to act. Here’s what you need to know before donating.
Infographic by Belinda Lim
The clock is ticking on international aid efforts in Nepal.
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Five days after Saturday’s devastating magnitude 7.8 earthquake, the small South Asian country is still facing widespread destruction and hampered aid efforts in the face of unfavourable weather conditions.
The official death toll currently stands at over 5,000, with more than 6,500 injured. Time is running out for the 37 urban search and rescue teams on the ground, which are desperately searching for survivors who may be buried amid the rubble in the capital city of Kathmandu or trapped in hard-to-access remote areas.
In total, an estimated 8.1 million people – more than a quarter of Nepal’s population – have been affected by the earthquake, by far the worst natural disaster to hit Nepal in 81 years.
Across central Nepal, hundreds of thousands of people continue to sleep outdoors in damp and cold conditions for fear of falling debris from aftershocks, which leaves them vulnerable to respiratory infections. Without access to clean water or sanitation, there is also fear of a potential cholera outbreak, similar to what happened so chillingly in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.
This is not helped by the fact that monsoon season begins in just a few weeks, in a country which already has a long history of cholera cases stretching back to 1823. The cycle is vicious: the bug causes constant diarrhoea, and infected waste gets into the water supply, further compromising sanitary conditions amongst the remaining survivors.
On the bright side, international aid has finally begun to reach remote regions such as Dhading and Gorkha. The United Nation’s World Food Programme is concentrating most of its efforts in the latter region, on top of pledging US$15 million through the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to enable humanitarian aid operations.
More than 1.4 million Nepalese are in need of food assistance, including 750,000 who live near the epicentre of the earthquake. Children under five and pregnant and lactating mothers will also require supplementary food to prevent malnutrition. Other priority needs include: medication and treatment supplies for the injured, post-trauma and rehabilitation care, as well as water and shelter.
Nepal has declared three days of mourning for the victims of Saturday’s earthquake.