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:

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.”

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.

May 4, 2015 | 0 comments

On the third day after the earthquake, the village of Swarathok buried its dead. The aftershocks were less frequent and less powerful. The initial chaos and fear had given way to grief and anxiety. The men, women and children of the small community high in the hills 50 miles northeast of Kathmandu wrapped the seven bodies in makeshift shrouds and carried them down through terraced fields and woods to the fast-flowing river. There the remains of the four children, all very small, and three adults were cremated according to traditional Hindu rites. Then the 500 villagers walked back up the steep slope to their homes, or what was left of them. Almost all the 83 houses lay in ruins. On Saturday, a week to the hour after the 7.9 magnitude earthquake that has killed at least 6,900 in Nepal, injured 15,000 and made up to half a million homeless, many of the villagers of Swarathok were sitting under the jackfruit tree in its centre. They have received almost no aid so far and have not been visited by a single government official. On Tuesday, Rashmita Shashtra, a 23-year-old public health student in Swarathok, had told the Observer: “No one has come.” On Saturday she laughed grimly: “Still no one has come.”

April 30, 2015 | 0 comments

Nepal was shaken by a massive earthquake that registered a 7.8 on the Richter scale, causing widespread destruction in areas of dense population, and preventing aid workers from reaching more isolated villages in the mountainous regions. As of Tuesday, at least 5,000 people were dead and at least 10,000 were injured. Hundreds of thousands of people have been left homeless. With any natural disaster, communication can often become a matter of life and death, and if phone lines are broken and cell towers crumble, relaying messages to the outside world and coordinating rescue efforts becomes that much more difficult. Add to that the fact that Nepal's government is woefully unprepared to handle such a humanitarian crisis, and chaos reigns. Still, some volunteers are trying to impose order on the chaos. After the quake, which shook cities in India as well as Nepal, volunteer ham radio operators from India traveled to the region to relay messages from areas whose communications infrastructure is broken or overloaded. Ham radio, also called amateur radio, is a means of sending and receiving messages over a specific radio frequency, and it is often used in disaster situations because it operates well off the grid; transceivers can be powered by generators and set up just about anywhere: