Switzerland immediately delivered emergency aid to Nepal after the devastating earthquake in 2015. Later, it contributed its extensive experience in rural infrastructure, agriculture and vocational training to assist reconstruction efforts.
From emergency aid to reconstruction in Nepal
On 25 April 2015, the long-feared earthquake finally struck, razing the Gorkha region, north-west of Kathmandu, to the ground. As it was a Saturday, children were not in school and most people were outside working. Otherwise, the death toll would have been in excess of 8,900. Some 3.2 million people lost their homes. Hardest hit were poor rural communities, many of whom were left completely cut off from the outside world as a result of the ensuing landslides.
Emergency relief and reconstruction
The Swiss embassy in Nepal promptly arranged the first round of emergency aid and, together with Swiss Humanitarian Aid, organised vital aid supplies. It also worked closely with Switzerland’s partners in Nepal to decide how this aid was to be distributed.
Switzerland immediately offered its extensive experience in rural infrastructure, agriculture and vocational training to assist reconstruction efforts. Existing bridge- and road-building programmes were extended to help the government reinstate damaged transport infrastructure. The already successful Swiss vocational training programme was supplemented with special construction courses.
Since then, Nepal has launched a national programme for the reconstruction of earthquake-resistant houses. Given the large number of semi-skilled workers needed, Swiss Humanitarian Aid experts were on hand to share simple earthquake-proofing construction techniques. The programme will enable locals, especially socially disadvantaged young people, to earn a much-needed income, and help prevent earthquake losses in the future.