Nepal Earthquake - April 2015

Providing Relief to Families in Nepal

Nepal’s powerful earthquake in April leveled more than 500,000 homes and claimed 8,669 lives. CRS and Caritas emergency efforts include technical assistance for rebuilding permanent shelter; water, sanitation and hygiene reconstruction; and cash assistance to rebuild assets and buy critical supplies. CRS’ strategy for recovery programming over the next 4 years focuses on rebuilding safer homes, protecting the environment during reconstruction and ensuring resilient livelihoods.

CRS & Caritas Nepal

"One of the poorest countries in the world, nearly half of Nepal's population lives below the poverty line. Over 10 years of conflict cost many Nepalese their lives and battered the Himalayan kingdom's already weak economy. In addition, each year Nepal experiences multiple natural disasters such as monsoon floods, landslides, fires and drought. Most parts of the country are also seismically active. Catholic Relief Services focuses primarily on supporting Caritas Nepal in emergency aid to families affected by disasters."

November 13, 2015 - Update

Seven months after the devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake, CRS and Caritas Nepal have reached 130,000 people with emergency support, often in extremely remote areas. CRS and Caritas have begun activities to help people fully recover and prepare for the cold winter months.

Impact to Date

CRS has provided 26,000 families, or 130,000 people, with critical shelter materials, living supplies, and water treatment and hygiene kits. We are now helping them lay a foundation for full recovery—and prepare for winter.

CRS/Caritas efforts to date include:

  • Emergency relief and shelter supplies to 12,496 families, or 70,351 people.
  • Transitional shelter materials including tin sheeting, tool kits, blankets and mats; hygiene kits with buckets, soap, towels and laundry detergent; and cash grants to 17,500 families so they can buy key items locally.
  • Water, sanitation and hygiene supplies provided to 68 schools and 6 health centers.
  • Trauma healing for communities through theater group presentations at distribution sites.
  • Market support to 200 vendors whose shops were destroyed, through debris clearing, and provision of iron sheeting and tool kits to construct transitional shops as they await reconstruction of their stores.
  • Demonstration panels for earthquake-resistant shelter and latrine construction. Work with government authorities and local technical organizations to provide training of trainers on earthquake-resistant building techniques.
  • Winterization support for families living in high-altitude areas of Gorkha district.


The most significant challenge affecting logistics is Nepal’s severe fuel shortage. Following establishment of the country’s new constitution on September 20, some groups are protesting at the Nepal-India border. From the Indian side, vehicles carrying fuel and other commodities are not being permitted to cross. To limit fuel consumption, the government permits vehicles to operate only on alternate days based on license plate numbers. To date, CRS and Caritas Nepal have managed to continue distributions and other field operations. But if the fuel shortage continues, we will need to limit activities that require vehicles.

Although the monsoon rains tapered off in October, CRS teams in some areas still require four-wheel-drive vehicles to get through thick mud. And to travel by helicopter to the north and remote central regions, the skies must be clear. A backup option for land transport to high-altitude areas is emerging: the United Nation’s World Food Program is working with trekking groups to set up operations that will allow relief materials to be transported by mule.

August 1, 2015

Three months after a massive earthquake in Nepal leveled more than 500,000 homes and claimed 8,669 lives, CRS is continuing to provide lifesaving support in some of the most affected, hard-to-reach parts of the country. Despite facing daunting challenges, including treacherous topography andunpredictable weather, CRS relief workers are navigating steep, winding roads and employing creative measures to reach extremely isolated areas.

With the monsoon season lasting through September, these next few months will be harder than ever. Torrential rains have washed out mountainous roads and led to the cancellation of helicopter flights carrying critical cargo. The weather has also blocked access to hard‐to‐reach areas and caused dangerous landslides.

Shelter remains an urgent priority, as families continue to live underbasic tarps, tin sheeting or simple materials outside their destroyed homes, with minimal protection from the elements.

We are working hard to provide people with supplies before communities areunreachable because of rains. Many villages are located in remote, high levations. In fact, to set up operations in these areas, CRS and our Caritas partners hired expert Nepalese trekkers to navigate the Himalayan terrain and help CRS establish operations.

As of August 1, CRS was well into the second phase of emergency relief efforts, focusing on transitional shelter and critical water, sanitation and hygiene materials to last he monsoon season. Long-term recovery efforts, starting in October, will likely focus on safe rebuilding, support so families can become resilient, and the restoration of markets and livelihoods. CRS' ability to rapidly assess and address the needs of affected communities is thanks to its long-running partnership with Caritas Nepal. CRS has been working with Caritas Nepal since the 1970s, and has been supporting CRS Nepal in emergency response capacity building and disaster management since 2005.