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May 19, 2015

Status update of Persons with Disabilities after earthquake.


April 25 to May 18, 2015

A devastating earthquake of 7.6 magnitude having its epicenter in Barpak of Gorkha district hit Nepal on 25th April 2015 at 11:56 am has claimed more than 8500 lives so far and caused huge damages of public and privates properties. The earthquake was followed by many aftershocks and some of them very powerful. The 6.8 magnitude aftershock came on May 12 caused further loss of lives and properties. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs the earthquake has affected around 31 districts. Dozens of historical places including world heritages were destroyed. 12 districts  (Kathmandu, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur, Sindhupalchok, Nuwakot, Dhading, Gorkha, Kavrepalanchok, Dolakha, Rasuwa, Lamjung, Makwanpur ) including Kathmandu valley out of 31 were severely affected with heavy losses of properties and lives.  As reported by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the death toll has reached over 8500 and around 17000 have become injured. The earthquake has fully destroyed around 500000 public houses and the number of partially damaged houses has reached more than 260000. 761 government houses are completely destroyed and around 2200 are partially damaged. According to the UN Resident Coordinator Office, around 8 million people of 39 districts are affected by the earthquake. However the exact data has not come yet.
 
As disclosed in the world disability report 2011 (WHO/World Bank), 15 out of each 100 people are living with some kind of disabilities in the world and majority of them are living in under developed country like Nepal. This prevalence rate of disability is calculated on the basis of WHO's definition and classification of disabilities. There is no doubt that persons with disabilities, senior citizens, children and pregnant women are in high risk at the time of emergency and moreover they are most vulnerable in the country or area where the physical infrastructure, buildings, houses, roads are not well constructed. It is hard to estimate the exact number of persons with disabilities who are affected by the earthquake or died in Nepal by the 25th April's earthquake since there is no any system with government or any other agencies to track disability specific data at the time of emergency and post emergency situation. However, based on the evidences available so far, NFDN can claim that a big number of persons with disabilities have been affected by the disaster. 

National Federation of the Disabled Nepal (NFDN), in coordination with its member organizations, has started collecting data of persons with disabilities who are affected by earthquake and have lost their lives. But due to the heavy destruction caused by disaster in district and lack of resource the data collection is getting a bit slow. So far, NFDN has updated the information of 1000 persons with disabilities. 930 out of that are affected in different ways and 30 have been killed. As per the information updated from different districts, the affected persons with disabilities are living on the following condition in the post quake situation.

  1. 1. Persons with disabilities are not having proper access in the relief materials since the chosen relief distribution centers are not accessible for them and far from the area where they are living.
    2. Children/persons with severe disabilities and need regular care, are likely to have less care since their houses are destroyed and parents are focused to manage to relief materials.
    3. In the open space where people are sitting under tarpaulin, the persons with disabilities are not getting accessible temporary toilet.
    4. Many organizations, institutions, groups and individuals are distributing relief materials to the earthquake victims each day, but children/persons with disabilities are not taken care while distributing it. The distributing agencies are not aware properly that, they should ensure that the persons with disabilities, senior citizens, pregnant women, children, patients are equally benefited by the relief. Many persons with disabilities have complained that they cannot go to the place by themselves where the relief materials are distributed because of long distance to walk.   
    5. Persons with disabilities have lost their assistive device like wheelchair, calipers, crutches, white cane, hearing aid, artificial limbs etc.
    6. The persons with disabilities who are using medicines due to their health condition are compelled to discontinue their medicine.
    7. The poor hygiene and sanitation of places where the people are taking shelters has effected badly in the health of severely disabled people.
    8.The regular aftershocks have raised metal stress of persons with disabilities thinking that they are not able to run away as other do.  

 

NFDN, as the leading national network of disabled persons, has intensified its advocacy and lobbying with UN agencies and cluster systems, Nepal government, Red-Cross and  other relevant agencies who are engaged in emergency response to increase the access of persons with disabilities in the immediate relief and supports.
 
NFDN has established emergency response desk in its office and taking initiation to develop partnership with INGOs to work on disaster affected districts with special focus to disability issues.  
NFDN has taken access in the international clusters system of emergency response. It has got an environment to influence in the integrated emergency response effort by having participation in the Inclusion Working Group under the cluster system. Simultaneously, NFDN, in collaboration and coordination with other stakeholders, is engaged to distribute relief materials in the affected districts with special consideration to the needs of affected persons with disabilities. So far NFDN has distributed tarpaulins, rice packs, other many food items and wheelchairs in Kathmandu, Nuwakot and Dhading for the persons with disabilities and their family. For relief material, NFDN has collaborated with Karuna Foundation, Sruti Sanstha, private sectors, national DPOs and many individuals for relief distribution.
 
NFDN has started collecting the actual data and information of affected persons with disabilities and intensify local advocacy and coordination to ensure the access of persons with disabilities in the ongoing relief and rehabilitation programs in the 14 mostly affected districts. In the first phase, the activity has been started in Kavre, Sindhupalchok and Makwanpur in the partnership with CBM.       

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