Nearly 1 out of 4 people killed in the earthquakes were children. Children’s homes were destroyed and more than 600 children lost one or both of their parents.
Moving forward, Plan International will give particular focus to education, shelter and protection, and here is why:
The earthquakes destroyed more than 35,000 classrooms and left thousands of children unable to study in a safe, permanent school. We need to get that back on track as soon as possible, as children continue to study in open spaces and in cracked buildings deemed unsafe by the government. ‘Back-to-school’ campaigning requires not just community awareness, but also a safe school for children to continue their studies.
It is imperative that when we build safe and permanent schools, we do not just focus on the safe structure. A safe school also means that children and teachers are trained and know what to do in the case of another disaster.
We overcame the monsoon season, and provided children and families with the essential services they needed to survive: shelter, food, water, protection and access to education. Now our next challenge will be the upcoming winter season and keeping children safe.
UNOCHA estimates that 81,000 households (400,000 people) will need durable shelter and household items ahead of the winter season. That is a massive population of children and families.
Families have told us they are not prepared for the winter.
Families have told us they are not prepared for the winter. These are families living in remote areas, often cut-off from humanitarian support.
It is imperative that children and their families receive emergency shelter and household support before the snow sets in. Temporary schools also need to be insulated and adapted to the winter.
Even before the earthquake, children were vulnerable to exploitation, violence and concerns like child marriage, labour and trafficking. These were worsened when the earthquakes devastated the nation, but the incidents were not new to Nepal.
We know as a child-based organisation that the best way to protect girls is to keep them in school. Girls who are given the opportunity to study are less likely to fall prey to trafficking, child marriage or child labour. Education is a powerful way to break the discriminatory practices and cultural norms that continue to negatively impact the lives of girls in Nepal.
However, with thousands of classrooms destroyed, the need to provide immediate schooling for children – particularly girls – is critical. Child protection in emergencies measures such as safe spaces must be developed and made accessible to girls, where they can receive the information, support and services they need to remain safe, healthy and protected.
Building a better Nepal for Children
Six months on and significant needs still remain. The current situation is still very much ‘temporary’ and as we transition into the recovery phase, we must look to provide families with longer-term support.
Children are resilient. They have come out of a major disaster both stronger and wiser. They want to return to a normal life soon, but they also want things to improve.
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