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Shelter, Reconstruction and Recovery in Nepal

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RedR UK training participant Ambika Amatya shares her experience of working on a reconstruction project in post-earthquake Nepal.

 

In April 2015, Nepal was struck by a devastating earthquake. Lack of resources and investment in infrastructure meant that the country struggled to cope with the earthquake’s magnitude, with major centers collapsing, resulting in almost 9,000 deaths and over 22,000 injured[1]. A further 2.8 million people (including 1.1 million children) were left in need of humanitarian assistance.

 

Ambika Amatya is the District Coordinator in Kathmandu Valley, working for Catholic Relief Services (CRS) an international NGO. As District Coordinator, Ambika is responsible for coordinating post-earthquake housing reconstruction, working closely with local and district government bodies to improve the shelter response after the crisis. She describes the effect of the earthquake and her motivations for joining the humanitarian sector:

 

 

 

Ambika's Story

I was at home in Kathmandu having lunch with my family when the earthquake struck. We were forced outside, fleeing to the outskirts of the city where my brother was and where the effect of the earthquake was less severe. We had to live in temporary shelter structure for 18 days. I felt incredibly traumatized and was scared to return home. Eventually, we rented a flat for 11 months, but the effect of the earthquake was ever-present.

 

Witnessing this earthquake, and the damage it caused to my family's property, motivated me to work in shelter reconstruction. In 2017, I joined Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in its reconstruction project called the Housing Recovery and Reconstruction Platform (HRRP) and have not looked back since. Through this role, I learnt a lot about the basic technical elements necessary to make buildings resilient to a future earthquake. I have also learnt the importance of a cohesive response between stakeholders in reconstruction and recovery, for example between engineers, NGOs, government units, construction agencies, and local municipalities.

Ambika working with communities on reconstruction projects in Nepal, © Ambika Amatya
Ambika working with communities on reconstruction projects in Nepal, © Ambika Amatya

Urban Shelter

In July 2018, Ambika participated in the RedR UK's e-Shelter in Urban Emergencies training. Funded by Lloyds Charities Trust, this online course equips shelter humanitarians with the knowledge and skills to work effectively in every stage of an urban emergency. Ambika explains her reasons for taking the course and the impact it has had on her work:

As cities continue to grow, natural disasters will increasingly hit urban areas and so I wanted to learn how communities can recover from these disasters, how infrastructures could be sustained to resist disaster, and what type of planning and management measures could be taken to mitigate the damage.  I also wanted to share  my knowledge and understanding of emergency situations from my shelter work in Nepal, to help others that may be forced to deal with a similar crisis in the future.

My current work is related to shelter reconstruction and engagement with this online course has enriched my insights on shelter options and increased my analytical capacity of shelter. This course also offered me the opportunity to learn from the opinions and experience of other participants. I have gained many new ideas from the thoughts and ideas of other participants on the discussion threads, which I will use to improve my work.

Nepal is prone to many kinds of natural disasters that are likely to create emergency situations. This course has given me the knowledge to better respond to future emergency situations. The skills I have gained will help me in my current role and even beyond this.

 

This online course has enriched my insights on shelter options and increased my analytical capacity of shelter

Ambika Ataya

e-Shelter in Urban Emergencies