AJWS’s Strategy in Nepal
AJWS is providing aid to the hardest-hit areas of Nepal, with a focus on helping communities whose needs are frequently overlooked during disasters: families living in extreme poverty, communities in remote villages, Tibetan refugees, Nepal’s lower castes, ethnic minorities, pregnant women, youth and LGBT people.
With decades of experience providing disaster relief, we know that local groups are best situated to address the complex challenges that arise in the wake of an emergency. So we are primarily funding community-based organizations that work with those most at-risk of being omitted from broader relief efforts. Many of these organizations were the very first responders in remote mountain villages which had yet to receive aid even weeks after the quakes.
The arrival of monsoon season in Nepal compounded the damage done by the earthquakes and aftershocks by causing landslides and flooding in some areas of the country. Reconstruction could not begin until the rains ended, creating an ongoing, urgent need for food, shelter and medical care. AJWS grantees continued to meet these needs, despite the challenges and risks.
Since monsoon season ended in September, AJWS has shifted our focus in Nepal toward rebuilding broken infrastructure, providing psychosocial support to traumatized survivors, and supporting communities to protect themselves from future disasters. We will stay the course with long-term support to help the people of Nepal recover by bolstering human rights.
AJWS is supporting a growing number of local Nepalese groups and one international relief organization:
- Boudha Bahunipati Project-Pariwar (BBP-Pariwar): BBP-Pariwar works to empower rural people to become the lead actors in improving their lives. Most of the homes in the districts where BBP works were either destroyed or severely damaged. With an emergency grant from AJWS, BBP-Pariwar is providing temporary shelter to 32 families in four villages in Sindhupalchowk and Kavre.
- Himalayan Climate Initiative (HCI): HCI was founded by Nepali entrepreneurs to build peace and develop the economy in Nepal. This youth-driven and solution-oriented non-profit organization delivers sustainable social-entrepreneurial initiatives like renewable energy, telecommunication and housing. With an emergency grant from AJWS, HCI is providing earthquake-resistant housing to community members who most urgently need shelter, such as those with elderly family members and young children.
- Himalayan Healthcare (HH): HH provides healthcare, education and employment opportunities to disadvantaged communities in remote mountain villages, some of which are hundreds of kilometers from a paved road. In the aftermath of the earthquake, most humanitarian efforts have been unable to access these regions. HH has proven to be a vital lifeline, distributing about 4 tons of rice daily to prevent starvation and mobilizing a medical team of 10 health professionals to fly to remote areas to treat injured and sick survivors. With AJWS funding, the team continues to meet the needs of four remote villages that continue to struggle to recover, distributing urgently-needed food and providing emergency care. HH has also begun longer-term recovery and reconstruction work.
- Association for Dalit Women’s Advancement of Nepal (ADWAN): ADWAN was founded by a group of Dalit women working to advance Dalit communities, focusing on the rights of women and children. Ten months after the earthquake, many Dalit families were still living without housing, often under the open sky. AJWS is funding the construction of 45 semi-permanent homes; ADWAN is also supplying Dalit communities with toilets, dishwashing stations and safer, smokeless stoves that use less firewood.
- LOOM Nepal (LOOM): LOOM develops women leaders in Nepal by helping them address the political, social, religious and cultural components of gender discrimination. With a grant from AJWS, LOOM is distributing feminine health products and basic hygiene kits, and setting up mothers’ and women’s groups to ensure that women can share their safety concerns, access medical care, and benefit from earthquake recovery and relief programs.
- Nepal Disabled Women Association (NDWA): NDWA supports women with disabilities through livelihood training programs. This group encountered enormous losses after the earthquake: They lost loved ones, sustained severe injuries and were displaced because their homes and livestock were destroyed. NDWA immediately sprang into action by distributing emergency and relief materials. With a grant from AJWS, NDWA is working with 16 community groups to teach women with disabilities how to form village savings cooperatives and provide livelihood trainings to begin their economic recovery.
- Sahayatri Samaj Nepal (SS): Gender-based violence saw an uptick after the earthquake. SS manages safe houses for survivors, provides psychosocial and legal counseling and facilitates trainings on the Nepali legal system to ensure that cases are prosecuted. SS is establishing five new safe houses for women in earthquake-affected villages with a grant from AJWS.
- Himalayan Community Committee (HCC): HCC was founded shortly after the earthquakes by the people of the Langtang Valley in Nepal’s mountainous region of Rasuwa to assist the community’s recovery and rebuilding efforts through the construction of greenhouses. These greenhouses will enable the cultivation of vegetables and other cash crops, providing critical livelihood sources in the otherwise cold and arid region. AJWS’s grant will support the rebuilding of 27 of the 64 greenhouses that were destroyed as a result of an avalanche caused by the earthquakes.
- Legal Aid and Consultancy Centre (LACC): LACC was formed by a group of female lawyers and teachers to provide free legal aid and services to victims of abuse and discrimination, as well as to conduct rights awareness and gender sensitization programs. It reaches populations throughout the country with walk-in and mobile legal clinics, human rights publications and interaction programs. With a grant from AJWS, LACC will establish a legal desk in the district headquarters of Sindhupalchowk and Kavrepalanchok to provide counseling, as well as paralegal and litigation services to women. This grant will also facilitate an “interaction program” to collaborate and build rapport with local governments and civil society organizations and to operate mobile clinics in remote rural communities.
Addressing Challenges in the Quakes’ Aftermath
AJWS’s grantees are responding to the following complex challenges:
Distance: Landslides and Nepal’s steep mountainous terrain have stymied aid to remote areas. AJWS grantees working in these regions have been the first responders in many villages.
Discrimination: Many villages inhabited by people belonging to the lower castes have been ignored by relief efforts. AJWS puts these and other vulnerable communities first.
Competing priorities: Rural families have had to choose between rebuilding their homes and tending their fields—a choice between exposure and starvation. AJWS grantees provide both food and shelter to meet basic needs.