A shallow earthquake measuring 7.8 centred 80km north of the capital Kathmandu on April 25 created widespread damage, prompting a global humanitarian response. As of April 29, at least 5000 people were confirmed killed. In addition to bringing down buildings and disrupting infrastructure, the earthquake caused landslides in rural areas and avalanches in mountainous regions.
The United Nations' emergency organisation, UNOCHA, said on April 29 that just over half the country's 79 districts had been affected, with the central and western region being worst-hit. Some 8.1 million people need emergency assistance. Strong aftershocks have forced people to sleep under tarpaulins or in tents on streets or in gardens, clear of falling debris. UNOCHA says 2.8 million people have lost their homes or been forced to stay elsewhere, while a total of 1.4 million urgently need food supplies.
Rescue teams have yet to reach cut-off communities in remote mountainous regions. Telecommunications in the worst-affected areas are down, up to 90 percent of schools in rural areas are damaged, fuel for transport and water pumping is running low and many wells have been damaged.
The Lutheran World Federation launched an immediate large-scale emergency response with its emergency team already in place in Kathmandu. Immediately after the earthquake, LWF staff distributed tarpaulins, hygiene kits and ready-made food to about 400 families in Kathmandu. As well as assessing the situation in remote communities, its priorities now are to provide clean water, food, sanitation and hygiene materials, medication, and emergency shelter to people who lost their homes or who are staying outdoors.
The LWF is working with the Nepalese government, the United Nations system and church partners in the ACT Alliance network to coordinate the response. Kathmandu is the site of the LWF regional emergency hub, which has been activated.
Since 1984, the LWF has worked in several regions of Nepal, including the heavily-affected Bhaktapur, Lamjung and Pokhara regions. With staff on the ground and infrastructure in place, it is well-positioned to offer immediate assistance.
The LWF provides relief on the basis of need and employs local staff regardless of ethnicity, in line with major humanitarian guidelines and standards.