In April and May 2015 Nepal suffered two major earthquakes. The first, occurring 50 miles north-west of Kathmandu, was recorded as the worst natural disaster to affect Nepal in over 80 years. It is estimated that over 22,000 people were injured and that nearly 9,000 lost their lives. The impact of the earthquake was particularly devastating given Nepal’s already weak infrastructure and the fact that many people live in informal accommodation. It is estimated that over half a million homes were destroyed and damage caused to roads and bridges made delivering aid to the affected regions challenging.
Poorly constructed multi-story brick buildings and temples in and around Kathmandu were reduced to rubble. Brick is the go-to building material there because the Kathmandu Valley has many brick works. However, poor construction practices meant older buildings often lacked steel reinforcements and adequate foundations. Heavy bricks made the buildings deadly when they fell. Mountainous rural areas with poor infrastructure suffered even worse. Whole villages collapsed; their houses made of stacked stones or timbers and mud were no match for the destructive force of landslides, avalanches, and shaking.
What made the quakes so devastating was not Nepal’s location on the fault line, but rather the man-made conditions of poor construction, overcrowding and a population already challenged by a lack of food, shelter and an infrastructure capable of delivering needed supplies.
At Kanti Children’s Hospital staff were quick to respond to the disaster, working flat out to treat patients arriving from affected areas. Wards were evacuated as a precautionary measure and treatment continued in the courtyard. Pressure on the hospital was intense in the weeks following the disasters, as patient numbers increased putting pressure on the hospital’s already stretched resources. Supplies of medicine and medical provisions such as bandages began to run low and blood was in particularly short supply.
This was compounded by the hospital’s only two anaesthetic machines being damaged in the earthquake. The machines, which allow medical staff to administer oxygen and pain relief while monitoring the patient’s heart rate and blood pressure were key pieces of equipment within the hospital. Thanks to the generosity of our supporters, So the Child May Live was able to raise the necessary funds of £26,000 to purchase a replacement machine, which was installed in 2016.