Blog Posts for 2015

May 13, 2015 | 0 comments

One week later, someone showed up: a raft guide named Megh Ale, who operates an eco-resort on the Bhote Koshi. He arrived with some medical supplies, volunteers, and not enough food. Upon seeing the extent of the devastation, he approached the Deujas. Ale told the cousins to head to Kathmandu and find a bed-and-breakfast called the Yellow House. Over the past two weeks, as the government and large international NGOs have struggled to deliver supplies in Nepal’s remote regions, the Yellow House has emerged as the hub of a vibrant guerrilla aid operation run by a handful of young people armed with little more than Facebook, open source mapping technology, local knowledge, and some antiestablishment verve.

Unregistered, unlicensed, and nonexistent in official terms, the Yellow House group is one of many ad hoc efforts that have cropped up to deliver aid to some of the quake’s hardest-hit areas quickly and without much fuss. Recently, the milieu at the Yellow House has expanded from urbane young Nepalis and wide-eyed international travelers to include prominent NGOs such as Team Rubicon, a group of US military vets sponsored by the Home Depot. Even the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has started delivering supplies through the group. But Sandesh and Dipak didn’t know any of that, nor would they have particularly cared. They just needed some rice and tarps, given the forthcoming monsoons. So they recruited two of the town’s other young, strong men...

May 13, 2015 | 0 comments

The International Red Cross announced a partnership with Nepal Telecom to utilize one of the few technologies that did provide relief in the wake of the disaster: SMS text messaging. Because SMS is a relatively low-tech communication protocol, messages can be sent even over a weak connection, and because it's asynchronous, they can go out whenever a phone catches a scrap of signal. After the first earthquake in Nepal on April 25th, services like WhatsApp and Viber, both of which use very little bandwidth, turned out to be much more reliable than phone calls or emails as a way to verify that friends and loved ones were okay. The Red Cross's partnership with Nepal Telecom uses geotracking technology to send targeted text messages about flooding, landslides, and emergency supply updates to millions of Nepalese. In a press release, the Nepal Red Cross Society estimated the SMS system would reach 1.1 million users initially: http://www.fastcompany.com/3046219/the-red-cross-launches-sms-service-fo...

May 7, 2015 | 0 comments

Thousands of people in remote parts of Nepal are still in need of medical help and basic supplies. But with roads damaged and buildings collapsed, knowing what aid is needed and where, is a challenge. One group of Nepalis, backed by a global community, is trying to change that by "crisis mapping" Nepal: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-32603870

May 4, 2015 | 0 comments

elief supplies for earthquake victims have been piling up at the airport and in warehouses here because of bureaucratic interference by Nepalese authorities who insist that standard customs inspections and other procedures be followed, even in an emergency, officials with Western governments and aid organizations said on Sunday. “The bottleneck was the fact that the bureaucratic procedures were just so heavy,” Jamie McGoldrick, the United Nations resident coordinator, said in an interview. “So many layers of government and so many departments involved, so many different line ministries involved. We don’t need goods sitting in Kathmandu warehouses. We don’t need goods sitting at the airport. We need them up in the affected areas.” The United States ambassador to Nepal, Peter W. Bodde, said he had spoken to Nepal’s prime minister, Sushil Koirala, about the issue and “he assured me that all the red tape will be stopped.” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/04/world/asia/nepals-bureaucracy-is-blame...

May 4, 2015 | 0 comments

Reporting from Katmandu, NPR's Julie McCarthy says that Brig. Gen. Paul Kennedy, the commanding general of the III Marine Expeditionary Brigade stationed in Okinawa, Japan, tells her the Marines came with four Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft that should make it much easier to reach remote areas. At this point, Kennedy said, the rescue phase of the operation is coming to an end so this mission will be mostly about providing aide. http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2015/05/04/404120296/u-s-marines-arr...