This article was originally published by The Mennonite

By tractor, truck, foot—supplies reach rural Nepal

With some extra manpower, the tractor pulls a wagon full of relief supplies up a gravelly hill in the Okhaldhunga District of Nepal. Through MCC’s partner, Group of Helping Hands, 300 families received enough food for three weeks, shelter materials, blankets, soap and cooking supplies. (MCC photo/Durga Sunchiuri)

With extra people power, the tractor pulls a wagon full of relief supplies up a gravel hill in the Okhaldhunga district of Nepal. Through MCC’s partner, Group of Helping Hands, 300 families received enough food for three weeks, shelter materials, blankets, soap and cooking supplies. Photo by Durga Sunchiuri.

Using tractors and people power to haul supplies where trucks could not go, Mennonite Central Committee’s (MCC) partner organizations finished an initial distribution of emergency supplies to Nepal earthquake survivors on May 12—the same day a second major earthquake rattled the country.

Anita Lama, 71, (right), and her family received food and sleeping mats from MCC through one of its Nepal partners, Rural Institution for Community Development (RICOD). Because the earthquake destroyed two of the family’s houses, they have been living under tarps. Before they received sleeping mats, they were sleeping on a plastic sheet on the ground. They were only able to retrieve a small amount of their stored rice and other food from their kitchen. MCC/RIOCD also provided the family with three weeks of food (rice, lentils and oil). They have a small field of planted maize and a small kitchen garden with vegetables. (MCC photo/Binod Deshar)
Anita Lama, 71, (right), and her family received food and sleeping mats from MCC through one of its Nepal partners, Rural Institution for Community Development (RICOD). Because the earthquake destroyed two of the family’s houses, they have been living under tarps. Before they received sleeping mats, they were sleeping on a plastic sheet on the ground. Photo by Binod Deshar.

The second earthquake caused further landslides in rural areas and exacerbated damage to buildings already affected by the April 25 earthquake.

The first earthquake killed more than 8,000 people and devastated entire villages in rural areas.

In addition to the major quakes, more than 240 smaller quakes and aftershocks also caused damage.

“All areas hit by the first earthquake were affected by the second one,” said Bruce Guenther, MCC’s director of disaster response. “We have already responded in some areas, and continue to provide assistance through our partners in rural and remote areas.”

After the first quake, MCC’s partners delivered food assistance to 2,189 families in the districts of Dhading, Lalitpur and Okhaldhunga. Of those recipients, 789 families also received household items such as tarps, blankets, mattresses, hygiene items, kitchen utensils and flashlights.

Carrying out the distributions was difficult where the remote areas were only accessible by foot or by mountainous dirt roads.

In Darkha, a community in remote northern Dhading, MCC partner Shanti Nepal learned that the food situation was dire soon after the quake.

While Shanti Nepal hurried to prepare a shipment of emergency, ready-to-eat food, a subsequent landslide, triggered by heavy rains in the days after the first quake, blocked the only road that leads into the community. It took more than a week for the road to be cleared so that trunks carrying food relief could get in to the area.

In Okhaldhunga district, getting to the Khijifalate main village after the first earthquake was a 10-hour truck journey, followed by transfer to smaller trucks, followed by a three-hour journey on a road passable only by tractors and motorbikes.

From there, beneficiaries had to carry supplies on foot to their homes in even more distant villages unreachable by motor vehicle. MCC’s partner, Group of Helping Hands, made five tractor trips in two days to get relief supplies from the trucks at the road head.

Guenther and MCC Nepal representatives Leah and Luke Reesor-Keller currently are assessing the situation to determine MCC’s longer-term response. The Reesor-Kellers are from Kitchener, Ont.

To see a map and pictures of MCC’s response, visit mcc.org/stories/mcc-responds-earthquakes-nepal.

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