WINNIPEG, Man. – Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) will begin its earthquake response by working with a local organization in a remote area of eastern Nepal, providing food and other essential items to affected families.
The support for about 200 families in Okhaldhunga District will assist people whose homes are no longer safe for use and who have less than one week of food available. Priority will be given to female-led households, and households with disabled, injured or deceased family members.
It’s the first project to be approved under MCC’s disaster assistance to Nepal. MCC has committed an initial $500,000 to the emergency response. The commitment will increase, if donations exceed that amount. Further relief projects will be confirmed in coming days.
MCC is focussing its efforts in remote and rural areas where we are already working with partners on a number of projects.
Leah Reesor-Keller, an MCC co-representative in Nepal, says there are reports that up to 90 per cent of homes in some rural areas are destroyed.
“Often these homes are made of stone, clay, wood,” she says. “We’ve heard that many have just crumbled, and are damaged to the point they are no longer liveable.”
In Okhaldhunga District, families will receive enough food to last a household of five, for three weeks. They will also receive emergency shelter materials, blankets and cooking supplies, flashlights, water treatment supplies and soap.
The supplies will be distributed through MCC’s current partner organization in the area, Group of Helping Hands (SAHAS) Nepal.
Reesor-Keller says one of the biggest challenges right now is making contact with partners in rural and remote areas to assess their needs.
“There are areas without good mobile phone access or road access and we still haven’t heard from them,” Reesor-Keller says. “We are doing what we can to reach out to the most isolated and vulnerable.”
MCC has had an active presence in Nepal since the 1950s. We currently work with eight local partners in Nepal, in 12 districts, on a range of projects – from agriculture and nutrition to education, health and peacebuilding. Most of MCC’s work focuses on vulnerable families in rural areas. Many of these households include migrant labourers and families headed by women.