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Nepal Earthquake: the logistics of responding in difficult situations

World Vision
6 May 2015 by Jamie Newton
Nepal Earthquake: the logistics of responding in difficult situations

The districts of Bhaktapur in Nepal has hundreds of houses that have been reduced to rubble, leaving thousands of children and families homeless. Photo by Theodore Sam, World Vision

In my logistics role at World Vision Australia, I’ve assisted in some incredibly challenging humanitarian emergencies and have been deployed to responses including the Haitian earthquake, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, and most recently Cyclone Pam in Vanuatu.

Last week’s earthquake in Nepal is yet another emergency that has presented its own complex logistical challenges for World Vision staff.

Even before the earthquake, moving goods around Nepal was incredibly challenging. Access to remote villages in Nepal was done mostly by foot due to the very mountainous terrain. After the earthquake, landslides cut off many routes to the communities and made access by foot impossible or too dangerous. Helicopters have been the only means of transporting supplies to the villages, but even they have been restricted by bad weather.

Most of the villages in rural Nepal can be reached only by foot, with people having to walk 4 to 5 hours. And the ones that can be reached by road have extremely bad roads, which are making it difficult for aid to reach in time to those affected. Photo by Theodore Sam, World Vision

Most of the villages in rural Nepal can be reached only by foot, with people having to walk 4 to 5 hours. And the ones that can be reached by road have extremely bad roads, which are making it difficult for aid to reach in time to those affected. Photo by Theodore Sam, World Vision

Nepal’s one major airport in Kathmandu became quickly congested by the increase of planes using the runway and weight restrictions placed on aircraft intended to transport supplies. This also caused a massive backlog in Dubai, as agencies waited to airfreight their supplies on aircraft that would be within the restricted weight limit.

With local markets opening again in Nepal, and with India and China so close, it’s clear that procuring supplies from the region is the best way forward. Not only does this allow us to access and distribute supplies faster, but also helps with supporting the local economy, which is crucial in the rebuilding phase.

Despite the difficult conditions, World Vision staff have been able to distribute tarpaulins, blankets and food aid to  people affected by the Nepal Earthquake. Photo by  Theodore Sam, World Vision

Despite the difficult conditions, World Vision staff have been able to distribute tarpaulins, blankets and food aid to people affected by the Nepal Earthquake. Photo by Theodore Sam, World Vision

The challenges that our staff face in Nepal and around the world are extremely complex. As much as we’d like things to move quicker, we are restricted by many obstacles. Logistics in an emergency is never easy, and this disaster – like many before – will continue to present many challenges for months to come.

World Vision has worked in Nepal since 1982. We’ve been assisting people and communities in the country for decades, and our model of development means we’re committed to continuing assistance in the years to come. Although the earthquake adds many layers of difficulty, World Vision is still determined to address the underlying causes of poverty in Nepal. We’re committed to helping rebuild lives – no matter what challenges lay ahead.

You can support World Vision’s emergency response by donating to our Nepal Earthquake Appeal today.

Jamie Newton Jamie Newton

Jamie is World Vision Australia's Supply Chain Manager.

 

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