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Nepal update

Loading bales of blankets Thapathali, bound for Dhading

Dear friends in Finland,
Earthquake response continues in full swing this week. UMN is now supporting relief work for almost 9000 households in 7 VDCs (regions) of Dhading district (just west of Kathmandu). We were all encouraged by the availability of BIG helicopters on Monday and Tuesday that enabled us to get supplies to northern parts of Dhading in significant quantities. In these places even the suspension bridges and walking paths have been wiped away by falling boulder and landslides, making access nearly impossible.

I spent the last three days in the capital of Dhading district where our health team was conducting a training and orientation for our partner organizations and seven Emergency Community Health Facilitators. These seven folks will spend the next three months training local Female Community Health Volunteers and supporting the health response in our target locations. They will focus on four key areas: emergency nutrition, reproductive health, psycho-social first-aid and WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene). Other members of our Health Team have been setting up three therapeutic feeding centers for severely malnourished children that we will also run along with our partners.

The 7.3 aftershock that occurred on Tuesday May 12 was probably more emotionally challenging for me and others than the first 7.8 quake. This is because we had all been expecting aftershocks to continue decreasing in number and intensity. While within the probable, the big aftershock was not expected. We have averaged almost 10 aftershocks per day of magnitude 4 or higher since the initial quake on April 25, although there were only 3 in the past 24 hours. Many people are still jumpy, but the situation feels like it is stabilizing a bit and we are moving into a more regular pace of work. The first round of relief is almost completely delivered.

The next key concern is to support farmers to plant before the monsoon rains start so that next season's crop will be assured and we avert continued and further food insecurity. Temporary shelters are improving as more tarps become available; but they will not be sufficient when the monsoon starts, so stabilizing the shelter situation is also a key concern. Many of the communities that we can reach by road now will become inaccessible once the rains start in earnest, so time is still critical here.

The goal with our health interventions, as well as the need for seed and shelter, is targeted at preventing the situation from getting worse. We hope and are planning to also start working more on recovery and resilience in the coming months.

Thank you for the outpouring of concern for the people of Nepal and your continued prayers in this challenging time.

Your sister in service for Christ,
Katherine Parker

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