Drinking water quality a key concern in the camps at Harisiddhi

Immediately after the devastating earthquake of 25th April a team of 13 volunteers from GUTHI visited Harisiddhi at the call of Environment and Public Health Organization (ENPHO) – NGO Coalition for the assessment of WASH status and other immediate needs of people over there. It was found that most of the houses which were destroyed were of traditional type whereas the concrete buildings are still intact.

About 450 houses were destroyed by the quake taking lives of 23 people.

Almost 60 percent who died were above 50 years of age and 40 percent of them were below 20 yrs. About 150 people were injured of which seriously injured were taken for treatment at the Teaching Hospital, Maharajgunj else others with minor injury were treated at the Harisiddhi health post.

People were staying in the open space with the tents managed by them. Few of the tents were also provided by the relief aid but most of them managed by themselves. They were living together in a group of about 220 people at one camp and group of 250 in another camp. Others were accommodated in the small camps. The volunteers comprised of engineers, environment management and health faculty were mobilized at the different areas of Harisiddhi. They reported that;

  • The team of engineers identified immediate need for additional temporary toilets at the large camp site as there were only two toilets for 250 peoples. However, the toilets over there were well maintained with the provision of water. The quake victims, especially women plead for the need of additional temporary toilets.
  • Team of environmentalist identified the need for the management of wastes over there as piles of wastes were being dumped near the camp and flies had already started to make their way over. Further, open defecation at various places near camp has attracted flies over there. However, youth mobilized there were segregating wastes and burning the inorganic ones. They were applying the phenyl and bleaching powder at the defecated area to prevent the epidemic due to flies and wastes.
  • Team of social work identified that the relief materials were being provided to the people by various donor agencies and youth groups. Since, the area was accessible to the main road, relief materials and medicines were being adequately supplied. Foods were being collected and brought at the camps, where it was cooked and served to each member. Victims whose houses have been destroyed were busy shifting their furniture and other goods to a safer place. Every members of the community including the volunteers from various organizations were helping people over there.
  • Regarding the health facility, teams of doctors reached there and people were getting treatment over there. Global Hospital, National Cancer Hospital and team of Taiwan medicals had reached there already. Cases of diarrhoea or other epidemic have not been reported there.

 One of residents shared, “Medical personnel have provided us with enough Aspirins and ORS but we need something to relief our pain from cold and ache besides Cetamol."

While planning for the construction of temporary toilets over there local resident were not found positive as they were worried about the its bad smell. Further, they said that people could access to their neighbors’ toilet and everyone is allowing them; hence, there is no need to construct another one.

People over there were conscious about the quality of drinking water and they have asked for water quality testing immediately than other relief aids.

Reported by Neha Basnet, Researcher GUTHI