Why is Nepal turning away aid?

By June 1, 2015
(Photo courtesy Baptist Global Response)

(Photo courtesy Baptist Global Response)

Nepal (MNN) — The Nepali government is under fire for blocking private initiatives bringing desperately-needed assistance to remote areas. They’re accused of clogging the arteries for relief to the country with paperwork.

With close to 8,000 dead, scores more injured, impassible roads, power outages, thousands homeless, and more yet to be reached with basic supplies, is the government really turning aid back? Jeff Palmer with Baptist Global Response says, “It’s a simple question, but a complicated answer. Number one: they are a sovereign nation. They are the ones, from the very beginning, who have taken the lead in this. Yes, they have asked for help, but they also have set protocols in place as to how that help comes in.”

For example, he says, right after a major disaster, there are people jumping on planes and sending things. All of those arrivals at the same time on a damaged tarmac and an unprepared distribution network created a huge backup. Remember Haiti? A similar situation occurred in the early days of Nepal’s quake but was resolved to get things moving.

It’s natural. Emergencies stir a compassionate response, explains Palmer. “That works well for the first couple of weeks, because it’s all just chaos. But as things begin to settle down and normalcy begins to return, then the government, because it’s their country and their people, wants to have more of a coordinated effort.” However, as it begins to catch balance again, a national government can sometimes be concerned about the huge flood of items past its borders. Communication is a big part of “going with the flow,” so to speak. “There are protocols to follow, and that’s where a group like BGR–and other non-profit NGOs and internationals that are working–find ways that really get to help people but also keep the government in the loop and keep those relationships going, so that we can continue the response efforts and not get blocked out of helping people.”

(Photo courtesy Baptist Global Response)

(Photo courtesy Baptist Global Response)

Because they’ve kept open communication between their partners on the ground, the aid group, and the government, they’re able to help “a village of 100 families and every house is destroyed and non-livable. What we’re looking at is getting folks into temporary shelters because the monsoon rains are coming; it’s that time of the year.” This village was overlooked by the larger agencies for days. A month on, some groups are pulling out. However, “We’re doing some very simple, temporary shelters with tin roofing, and metal frame–sort of like a Quonset hut-type thing. Then, later on, we’ll come back and figure out how to get people into more permanent housing.” (Click here to watch a video on building a safer Nepal.)

Building temporary housing costs more than a standard relief operation, however. Materials that can withstand a monsoon aren’t cheap. BGR has found a local temporarily available shelter kit that costs about $100USD. “We’ve already allocated, in five weeks of the event, about half of the funds that we’ve received…which is a little unusual (to have already spent half of the funds we’ve received already).” BGR is mobilizing small volunteer teams to go in and work with the Nepalese communities to get those shelters built through the end of the year. Palmer warns, “We’re not sure that those funds are going to last to the end of the year, but we have a big God and we trust Him to provide the resources that we need.”

(Photo courtesy Baptist Global Response)

(Photo courtesy Baptist Global Response)

As Palmer observes, the work is hard and takes a toll emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Yet, “It’s been amazing to see story after story of going out to deliver food, and yet also seeing our partners take time to share truth and hope that’s found in Christ.”

Pray for rest, rejuvenation, and continued excitement and vision in their efforts to live out God’s love to the people of Nepal. You can make a difference for earthquake survivors in Nepal. Learn how by visiting gobgr.org/nepal.

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