Emergency & Recovery

Gorkha, west of the capital Kathmandu, was at the epicenter of the earthquake that struck Nepal in April 2015 and suffered massive damage. 100% of households in the district reported at least some damage from the quake; and 97% of the homes in Gorkha's northern zone were completely destroyed. Water and sanitation systems were also badly hit, and farmers lost seeds, livestock and irrigation systems during and after the earthquake, putting them and their families at risk of hunger.

Caritas' work

Caritas Nepal is working in partnership with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to help the people of Gorkha rebuild their lives and livelihoods. So far, we've been:

  • Training local masons in earthquake-proof construction so that Gorkha communities can "build back better"

  • Helping communities rebuild houses, toilets and water supply systems, via door-to-door support and Cash for Work schemes

  • Training farmers in new agricultural, seed-storage and livestock rearing techniques, and providing them with seeds

The Sindhupalchowk District in central Nepal suffered particularly badly during the April 2015 earthquake. 3429 people lost their lives, and there was widespread damage to water and sanitation systems. Many farming families were left destitute as the earthquake destroyed their crops and cultivated land.

Caritas' work

Caritas is working with local people in Sindhupalchowk to restore their access to safe water and sanitation, and support farming families to learn new skills to support themselves, so that they recover more quickly from the earthquake and are more resilient to future disasters.

So far, our work has included:

  • Starting repair work on 8 irrigation systems (used by 763 households)

  • Starting work on 6 water supply schemes, which will benefit 344 households when completed

  • Setting up cash-for-work schemes in three villages to support local people as they build back community facilities

  • Training 51 local people in alternative livelihoods, especially vegetable farming, so that they can support themselves and their families

In July 2016, heavy rainfall caused severe flooding and landslides in 51 districts in Nepal, killing 122 people and destroying or damaging almost 5000 homes. In the aftermath, thousands of families found themselves homeless, short of food and without access to safe drinking water.

Most of the affected families lived by farming, so the disaster also had longer-term consequences for them: many lost livestock and crops to the floods, and whole fields became uncultivable.

Caritas' work

Caritas carried out relief operations in the nine worst-affected districts, and is now working with vulnerable families to ensure they have options to support themselves longer-term.

Key achievements so far have included:

  • Reaching 1680 affected families with emergency support, including food, water, mosquito nets and hygiene kits, in the first days after the disaster

  • Supporting 606 students with educational supplies, so that they could continue attending school

  • Implementing "cash for work" schemes and distributing seeds to 1200 families to help communities recover and rebuild

The Earthquake

On 25 April 2015, Nepal was struck by a violent earthquake: the first major quake to hit the country for more than 80 years. It measured 7.8 on the Richter scale; a second earthquake followed on 12 May with a magnitude of 7.3. There were also hundreds of aftershocks.

The 2015 earthquakes caused devastating damage, loss and injury in Nepal: 8969 people were killed, and more than 23,000 wounded, with 602,592 homes completely destroyed and 284,482 damaged.

Nepal, one of the world's poorest countries, was faced with a massive task of reconstruction. Thousands of families were living in unsafe houses or cramped temporary shelters, without proper sanitation or clean water.

More than 65% of Nepali people depend on agriculture for their living; but the earthquake destroyed crops, livestock and irrigation systems, leaving millions at risk of food shortages and unable to meet their family's needs.

Aftermath of the Earthquake

Caritas Nepal immediately sprang into action, supported by Caritas Internationalis. We reached more than 70,000 households across at least 168 villages (VDCs) in 15 districts of Nepal, providing them with temporary shelter materials, water and sanitation items, food, corrugated iron sheets, and emergency cash grants.

We coordinated our work with central and local government departments and cluster systems to implement relief as effectively as possible. Caritas organizations from various countries provided technical support for the relief operation.

Now, two years on, our biggest programme is dedicated to helping communities in four badly-affected districts recover from the quake, as part of the

  • Nepal Earthquake Recovery Programme,

which began in January 2016 and runs for three years. The programme has been supported by the Caritas family in many countries through the umbrella network of Caritas Internationalis. It's a team effort, and we would like to thank all of our donors and partners from the bottom of our hearts for their support in implementing this vital programme, which we anticipate will improve the lives of more than 30,000 Nepalese affected by the earthquake.




Nepal Earthquake Recovery Programme

The problem

Given the scale of the disaster, in the months following the earthquake, Caritas Nepal carried out a post-disaster needs assessment, based on the real needs of earthquake-affected houses.

We concluded that there were 8 VDCs across four districts where our support would be particularly valuable.

These VDCs were Orang and Bulung in the Dolakha district, Thokarpa and Kalika in the Sindhupalchowk district, Chandenimandan and Balthali in the Kavrepalanchowk district, and Baseswar and Hariharpur Gadhi in the Sindhuli district.

There are about 6226 households in these villages. About two-thirds of the households belong to poor and low-income families, who have lost from Rs.50, 000 to more than Rs.200, 000 per capita (approximately $480-$1900) due to earthquake damage. More than half of the families belong to the Dalit caste and other traditionally marginalized ethnic groups.


Caritas' work

Caritas Nepal’s aim in our Earthquake Recovery Programme is to help people and families affected by the earthquake in the eight chosen VDCs to rebuild their houses, restore access to safe water and sanitation facilities, restore their livelihoods and enhance their resilience to future disasters.

Here are some of the major achievements of the programme so far, in each area of intervention:


  • 326 masons have been trained to construct earthquake-resistant houses using local materials such as stone, mud and bricks. The masons were taught to use reinforcing bands of wood or reinforced concrete to strengthen houses’ earthquake resilience. They’re now constructing earthquake-resistant houses for rural families in the VDCs.


  • We've also given orientation sessions to 4000 households on the fundamentals of earthquake-proof reconstruction during shelter group meetings.


  • 12 model or demonstration houses have been constructed in the villages to raise awareness among the villagers about earthquake-proof construction. People now understand that it’s possible to build earthquake-resistant houses using local materials and local labour. Caritas asked the villagers to choose which vulnerable households in their communities should be offered the model houses. Those chosen include elderly poor families, households led by single women, and families with disabled family members.


  • We’ve provided 4242 households with the first instalment of a housing grant, worth Rs.50, 000 per household. They will be provided with a further Rs. 150,000 ($1445) once they complete their damp-proof coursing, and Rs.100,000 ($960) each once they finish the walls.


  • We’re also ensuring that affected households are provided with shelter and technical guidance as they rebuild their homes.


Water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH)

  • Bymobilizing local water user groups, Caritas Nepal has already constructed 17 drinking water systems, which will serve over 1200 households.The local people have managed the construction and contributed significantly in terms of construction management and labor, while Caritas Nepal and our partner agencies have provided technical guidance and funding for construction materials.


  • We’re starting work soon on further water systems, and plan to construct about 56 in total over the three years of the programme.


  • We've overseen disinfection of more than 30 community water tanks, which has already led to a significant drop in E-coli bacterial contamination. We've also tested more than 100 local water sources for coliform contamination, and advised affected households to boil or purify water before drinking it.


  • To make a lasting difference to WASH in the communities where we're working, we've organized awareness-raising activities about the crucial importance of good hygiene, reaching more than 6000 households and some 3700 school children with materials, presentations and radio jingles. All eight village areas now also have their own WASH committees, to embed lasting behavior change in their communities.



  • We've involved 3208 households in "cash-for-work" schemes to repair local infrastructure like bridges, roads and community resting sheds. The villagers carry out the labour and receive cash in return to cover their basic household needs.


  • We're prioritizing the repair of irrigation canals to benefit local farmers. So far, four canals have been repaired, aiding 302 farming households.


  • We're also training local farmers in livestock management and improved agricultural techniques like mulching, composting, growing vegetables in protective plastic tunnels, and pest management. Already rice farmers who participated in pest management training have seen improvements in their yields of up to 25%.


  • After receiving training, motivation and basic equipment from Caritas Nepal, more than 1000 local households have started their own kitchen gardens, helping improve their food security and ensure that they have a balanced, nutritious diet.


  • We've also distributed seeds and saplings to 5449 farming households, goats to 489 small farmers, and basic agricultural tools such as bio-fertilizer and plastic sheeting to 718.

Throughout the programme, we've worked hard to ensure that communities can benefit from our support in a safe, accessible and dignified manner, and that we're reaching the most vulnerable households. We’re focusing in particular on protection and psychosocial concerns as a cross-cutting theme throughout all our work.

The recovery programme has got off to a good start, and there's much left to do before its scheduled finish date in March 2019.

We're looking forward to continuing to work with these resilient communities and our wonderful partners, to ensure that local people's quality of life is not just restored but even better than it was before the earthquake.