Nepal: The First Two Weeks

In the 12 days since the magnitude 7.8 earthquake in Nepal on 25 April 2015, the international community has witnessed the resulting death toll climb upwards of 7,300 people, with another 14,300 injured, in the midst of aftershocks up to magnitudes of 6.7. According to preliminary assessments, over 8 million people are currently affected in 39 out of Nepal’s 75 districts, and an estimated 2.8 million people are displaced. This past week has also seen a tremendous surge in the global response, including engagement from over 60 nations and growing, hundreds of relief organizations, online donations, private sector engagement, technological support and digital volunteers. Daily situation reports have emphasized mounting vulnerability resulting from damaged infrastructure and roads, as well as immediate humanitarian relief and protection needs, ranging from food insecurity and overwhelmed hospitals to the imminent risks of sexual and gender-based violence that thousands of women and children face.

In the first days of a crisis, when the needs are most acute, immediate response saves lives. Natural disasters of this scale not only devastate progress made in ongoing humanitarian and development initiatives at the local level, but also significantly reduce community resilience, particularly where the increased frequency and intensity of disasters disrupt livelihoods, drive displacement, and exacerbate conflict. Agile, innovative responses are critical to protecting vulnerable populations in crisis, restoring basic infrastructure, and mitigating prolonged displacement.

Through conversations with expert practitioners from the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, this special edition of the ATHA Podcast will discuss the operational decisions and interventions within the first two weeks of a large-scale humanitarian disaster response. Panelists will discuss how agencies are responding to urgent needs in Nepal, the challenges and strategies of coordination, and priorities to consider in medium to long-term recovery, in order to help vulnerable communities “build back better.”

May, 2015