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Nepal Earthquake Recovery Appeal 2015
In Bhaktapur, a city devastated by the earthquake. Many homes look structurally sound from the outside but on closer assessment
are completely unstable.
Following the devastating events in Nepal on Saturday 25th April, the Nepal Earthquake Recovery Appeal
(NERA) 2015 fund will direct donations towards small, grassroots NGOs working on the ground to support
Nepal’s recovery. Donations are being collected via the UK charitable trust, The Bulldog Trust.
Longer-term aim of NERA is to help create a network of Nepali NGOs working in the earthquake relief effort,
through which direct funds can be channelled, information exchanged and cooperation sought (with the
international non-profit, public and private sector).
The project has been devised and will be led by Alison Marston, Head of Grants and Philanthropy for the Bulldog
Trust, who has both extensive humanitarian work experience in Nepal and broad grant-making knowledge.
Drawing upon the robust grant-making processes and track record of The Bulldog Trust, careful assessment
and selection of recipient organisations will ensure that all monies donated will be directed towards those
in the greatest need. Resources expended will be closely monitored and accounted for without placing
onerous requirements on recipient organisations. The Bulldog Trust is charging no fees for the administrative
support it is providing and is supporting Alison while on secondment in Nepal. (Background section 3 for
more information on Alison Marston).
Alison will call upon her fluent Nepali, intimate knowledge of the country, extensive local network and grantmaking experience to assess needs, build a local network of recipient organisations and organise the rapid
dispersal of funds. Alison is an expert on delivering aid to Nepal and understands the impact the current
state of logistics, government engagement and hostile climates across the country will have on efforts to
rebuild the country.
To discover some of the challanges that earthquake victims in Nepal are currently facing which form the
basis of this strategic over view, have a look at this short documentary.
On 25th April a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Nepal, impacting 39 of the 75 districts across the
country including the capital Kathmandu. According to the Nepali Home Ministry1 the death toll has reached
7,912, but casualty figures are expected to rise as rescue efforts continue (at least 264 Nepali nationals and
111 foreigners are still missing after the disaster). This source also estimates 17,871 people were injured and
a total of 2,97,266 houses were fully damaged and 10,803 government buildings collapsed. Other sources2
have reported 8 million people have been may be affected by the earthquake.
Nepal is one of the world’s poorest countries, and is still struggling to overcome the effects of the decadelong civil war from 1996 to 2006. Although a certain level of stability has been achieved in the last few years,
the situation remains sensitive - the country is plagued by political instability and suffers from frequent
episodes of popular unrest, as well limited infrastructure, topographical challenges and large parts of the
country and population lacking access to more than the most basic public services.
Areas most severely impacted include Gorkha (the epicentre), Sindupalchowk, Rasuwa, Ramechhap,
Nuwakot, Kavre, Dolakha, Dhading, Bhaktapur, Lalitpur and Kathmandu3. Mount Everest was also struck
by deadly avalanches, with casualties of 17 climbers, with the number of Sherpa and porter fatalities still
not being clear. NERA is not prioritising this area of need or the Sherpa community as it is believed they will
access support from existing donor funds and climbing networks to help rebuild their communities.
In the capital the extent of the damage is uneven with some of the more affluent parts of the capital, such as
Lazimpat, Maharajgunj, and Durbar Marg hardly affected, whilst other areas including Patan and Kathmandu
Durbar Square, the main cultural attractions of the city suffering severe damage.
In the outlying areas damage is yet to be accurately documented but reports that have come in evidence
large-scale devastation across swathes of the countryside. Despite the impact on Kathmandu, Lalitpur and
Bhaktapur being proportionally less devastating in terms of fatalities, casualties and houses destroyed
than outlying districts, the cultural devastation in these three districts is very high, with the risk of internal
displacement to Kathmandu straining already burdened social services and infrastructure. The potential for
the spread of epidemics in such a situation, is particularly high and dangerous.
1.2 HUMANITARIAN CONTEXT:
The earthquake was extreme consisting of around 2 minutes of intense, fierce tremors reaching a magnitude
of 7.8 Richter scale and 99+ aftershocks, some of 6 and 7 Richter scale, although these aftershocks are
less frequent, they have not entirely subsided. The population is traumatized, after people have lost family
members, suffered injuries themselves, lost their homes and their livelihood and the future of recovery
A large earthquake relief effort mobilised immediately after the initial earthquake, involving a very diverse
range of different actors (the Army, INGO’s, NGO’s, Civil Society Groups, Individuals, to name but a few) the
need is still great and many places still haven’t received any aid at all.
This is in part due to Nepal’s geographical landscape and poor infrastructure, but also a result of much
miscommunication and at times a poor understanding of the local context and culture, ie. little or no
consideration for the structures of Nepali society (look at Appendix for more detail). Such as, efforts which
go to a village and hand relief items out without properly assessing the needs or identifying those most
vulnerable of not being included, ie. Dalits1 or other marginalised castes, women and children, the elderly or
in contrast targeting marginalised groups in a way that disrupts community cohesion.
On the ground the view of the relief efforts have often reflected disappointment and disillusionment. Many
different groups have reported positively on the efforts of the Nepali Army and Police Force, but often consider
these as separate to the government. The mobilisation of young Nepali’s, including the Non Resident Nepali
(NRN) communities to living abroad to form groups delivering aid relief and helping with the clean up efforts
of areas particularly of cultural significance have been impressive. These efforts largely originating from the
middle-class and affluent Nepali’s based in Kathmandu, have for many sown important seeds of hope for
the future rebuilding of Nepal. To keep this momentum of solidarity and direct it to longer-term sustainable
impact, is going to be challenging, but also an important resource to be nurtured, in a country that is made
up of a majority of youth. Nepali’s helping Nepali’s rebuild their country is key to Nepal having a positive
future ahead of itself.
A wide range of sources have also commented on the duplication of relief efforts, leaving areas and people
in real need have not received aid. The response has involved so many different parties with their own
agenda’s, which has led to a lack of systematic coordination, often without any clear mechanisms in place to
assess need and monitor distributions, ie. many efforts consist of distributing basic food supplies for 2-3days,
in areas where the greater immediate need is shelter or healthcare. Also so many supplies have been coming
from abroad or bought in Kathmandu, when they are in supply that this has negatively impacted the local
economies of district headquarters in outlying areas when supplies are available and inflation since the
earthquake on basic food items has already increased significantly, with this likely to rise further in the
The monsoon season normally arrives around mid-June when the country experiences daily, heavy rainfall.
The horrors of disease, epidemics and hundreds of thousands of homeless people living in poor and unsanitary
conditions during the monsoon could be catastrophic.
Therefore the real concern and priority is for the mid-term recovery phase is to focus on healthcare,
sanitation, shelter and the rebuilding of communities quickly. The problems are multi-layered and complex,
which in turn need multidimensional approaches that are flexible to changing needs, which small grassroots
organisations are well placed to provide.
Visits to outlying areas despite the terrible reality of loss and devastation, have also been a strong reminder of
the strength and resilience of the Nepali people and their ability to make the most of a tragically catastrophic
situation. It is key to support local community initiatives to lead the rebuilding of their communities.
1 The term, ‘Dalit’ is most commonly used to identify those on the lowest rung in the caste hierarchy, making them some of the
most vulnerable and poor groups within Nepali society; oppressed, suppressed and exploited. (ILO: ‘ Dalits and Labour in Nepal:
Discrimination and Forced Labour’ p.1).
2. AIM OF NEPAL EARTHQUAKE RECOVERY APPEAL 2015:
The aim of the Nepal Earthquake Recovery Appeal 2015 is to
identify capable, competent and trusted grassroots initiatives and
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO’s) working on the ground
in Nepal and support them with grants for urgent earthquake
relief aid and seed funding for projects and initiatives focusing
on recovery and rebuilding. By supporting small competent and
capable organisations that know the local context and community
of their work well, allows for a much more hands on direct approach
to rebuilding and recovery, which should deliver tangible results
efficiently, whilst preserving cultural and contextual sensibilities, so
as to empower local communities to guide the rebuilding of their
This mid-term recovery phase, when the media coverage of the
situation dies down and relief aid has exited and before the start of
the imminent monsoon has been identified as the time when there
will be the greatest need for support.
Therefore the majority of NERA funds will be utilised for mid-term recovery, to support sustainable efforts,
delivering projects with long-term impacts in the most affected districts.
Once organisations capable of both getting relief aid out immediately and who will also be competent
partners for recovery/rebuilding efforts have been identified they will be profiled as grant recipients through
the Bulldog Trust website through a summary report and short films giving them a platform to be showcase
their work and providing donors a secure route through which donations can be channelled, giving them
peace of mind that their funds are reaching those in the most need.
It was confirmed last week in a statement by the government that all donations (from institutions or
individuals) to help earthquake victims must be channelled through the Prime Minister’s Disaster Relief
Fund, unless an organisation is an existing NGO (this is not applicable to NGO’s set up after the 25th of
April 2015) and that those who flout the rules will be punished. Therefore this strategy is the safest way to
ensure that all of your donations are spent on victims and not being syphoned off through unaccountable
channels one is unable to monitor. Also this strategy ensures that donations can be used for recovery in
the mid-term and long-term, which many of the current relief operations formed by unregistered groups
will not be able to guarantee.
The most important need is to ensure the population have access to food/water, medical attention,
hygiene and sanitation and shelter.
Organisations working in the above areas and with vulnerable communities, such as marginalised
castes (Tamang1 and Dalits), women and children and those with disabilities or health problems,
such as burns survivors and leprosy-affected persons will be prioritised as beneficiaries for support.
On ground assessments communicating with a range of actors (government, INGO’s, NGO’s and
beneficiaries) has highlighted the need to channel resources to areas at risk of falling through the
cracks of larger initiatives.
Maintaining good channels of communication with grant recipients, as well as a variety of other
organsitions and networks working on the ground is key to maintaining an effective and efficient
approach for support.
Alison Marston (AM), who has both extensive humanitarian emergency and relief experience in Nepal from
her work with the International Committee of the Red Cross during the 10 year long internal conflict has
broad grant-making knowledge from her current role at The Bulldog Trust, from which she is on secondment
while is in Nepal between the 1st May to 17th May 2015 to identify grant recipients. The aim of this visit
is to compile a network of 10-20 grassroots organisations through which the Nepal Earthquake Recovery
Appeal 2015 funds will be channelled. During this visit Alison will meet a range of small organisations run
by contacts or trusted individuals. These organisations will all be working on the ground addressing the
priorities stated above.
A contextual analysis of the situation and needs assessment is being compiled through communications
with government representatives, army contacts, international aid and relief representatives, NGO’s and
grassroots organisations, well connected individuals on the ground and by visiting affected areas outside of
Kathmandu to inform the basis of this strategy. Needs on the ground will be assessed as an on going process,
so as to ensure that support is adapted to shifting priorities in the medium to longer-term.
Working progresses such as grant giving/applying and monitoring tools have been formulated specifically
in line with the strategy, to support organisations to keep transparent records of what the funds will be and
have been spent on and the impact of these projects without creating onerous or bureaucratic systems that
impend the work of often small organisations.
1 Tamangs are a Tibeto-Burmese speaking people, making up the single largest ethnic group in Nepal. Despite their large presence they remain highly marginalised. They are concentrated in the high hills of east, west, north and south of Kathmandu valley,
which are the areas most impacted by the 2015 earthquake and aftershocks. Tamangs are concentrated in seven districts Sindhuli,
Makawanpur, Kavrepalanchowk, Sindhupalchok, Nuwakot, Dhading and Rasuwa. (http://www.tamangsamajuk.com/history_info/
Organisations will be assessed for suitability for collaboration on three main criteria:
Ability to get resources required to areas of need
The impact and demand for their activities based on their track record and the needs assessment
Strength of an organisation based on the due diligence done by AM and by third party referees
Willingness to collaborate with others, particularly local community leaders and members
Assessment of sustainability of the organisation, ie. financial health check of organisation and
assessment of structure, ie. Board, demonstrably impartial, ie. a track record of non-caste bias and
non sectarian preferences throughout working processes.
All grants will be made directly to grassroots organisations and NGO’s that fit the above criteria. They will be
responsible for monitoring their activities and providing an audit of finances.
Independent film and documentary maker, Camille Summers-Valli (CSV), who spent 15 years of her life
growing up in Nepal and is the daughter of eminent filmmaker and photographer Eric Valli, has travelled
out to Nepal with AM and will be producing short films of the NGO organisations as part of the strategy to
build a platform to profile impressive organisations, who do not have the resources or capacity to do this
themselves. Grant recipient organisations will be encouraged to establish a network amongst themselves
to share knowledge and best practice, to minimise duplication of work and to maximise efficiency of efforts.
Costs of the trip to Nepal to make the initial needs assessment and to identify grant recipients, including all
the filming is borne by individuals involved: AM and CS-V. The only cost in the process is a 4% fee charged by
Everyclick for donations made through this platform, which is significantly cheaper than Justgiving and other
2.3 ON-GOING MONITORING:
Once signed up for support, organisations will be required to provide basic, clear information on intended
beneficiaries, progress of activities and results achieved. Organisations will be supported to do this effectively
and efficiently by being provided monitoring tools, which simply outline the information required, but that
can be adapted by organisations if necessary. The most effective way of monitoring the activities and impact
of these grassroots organisations is to build relationships with them, by which they feel at ease to inform you
of changing priorities and needs so funding is also utilised to have greatest impact on persons and areas with
the greatest needs.
It is NERA’s aim to be a 100% transparent about the project outcomes and share these online through The
Bulldog Trust website. At the end of August 2015 a first quarterly report will be published on the progress
of NERA 2015 and in the meantime regular updates will be made using social media platforms, such as
Facebook and Twitter @QuakeNepal.
Longer terms aims will be assessed once more information has been gathered, however it is intended that
having built the secure route through which funding can be offered, donors will be able to post funds directly
to organisations in Nepal should they so wish.
Alison Marston was born in Nepal where, following her father’s service
in the Gurkha regiment of the British Army, her family have lived for 40
years and speaks Nepali as her first language. Educated in Kathmandu
and latterly at Stowe School in England, Alison graduated with a
degree in Education, followed by an MA in Education and International
Development from the Institute of Education in 2012. In the past 15
years Alison has worked on various charitable and humanitarian projects
for Nepal. These include spending two years working in humanitarian
and emergency response efforts and conflict protection in the field in
28 districts across Nepal, including the earthquake epicentre district:
Gorkha , for the International Committee for the Red Cross (ICRC). Since
2013, Alison has been running a ground-breaking grants initiative for the
Bulldog Trust, seeking out innovative charities for early stage funding.
The Bulldog Trust (Registered UK Charity 1123081) has given over £4million pounds to a wide range of
charities since 1983. The Trust offers grants to small-to-medium sized charities to enable transformation
change and provides access to pro-bono business expertise through the Engaging Experience Network. The
Trust is based at the Two Temple Place in London.
BVS Nepal (Nepal, Registration No: 415, Social Welfare Council Affiliation No: 27288) is a not for profit nongovernmental organization established by Wendy Marston (Alison’s mother) and Pramada Shah in 2008 to
help and support survivors of burns, resulting from accidents or violence. Wendy Marston’s work with BVS
Nepal was recognized by the Dalai Lama in 2014 when she was honoured as an Unsung Hero of Compassion
4. APPENDIX: Overview country background
This appendix serves to inform the reader about the intricate cultural, ethnic, linguistic, political, economic
dimensions and relationships of this contextual setting of Nepal.
4.1 Geography and population
Nepal is a landlocked country situated in the midst of two of Asia’s emerging global giants. Famed for its
Himalaya range in the North bordering the Tibetan Autonomous region of the People’s Republic of China and
India borders the South, East and West.
The land area is 147, 181 square kilometers, of which the topography is distinctly diverse leading to three
ecological zones within the country. The northern Himalayan belt and home to Mt. Everest, dominates 42%
of the land, the Hill belt below this covers 35%, and the lowlands/plains (varying between flat agricultural
land and dense jungle) known as the Terai belt in the south comprise of 23% of the land (Vaidya and Gautam,
2008). The population has doubled over 30years to 29,959,364 (World Bank, 2012a), with density most
noticeable in the Terai and Hill belts. Nearly 50% of the population are below the age of sixteen (WHO, 2007)
and 85% live in rural areas (Sharma Paudel, 2007) of which 80% is reliant on agricultural subsistence farming
4.2 Language and culture
Nepal is both multi-ethnic and multilingual with an estimated 103 ethnic groups, speaking approximately 94
languages, although roughly 49% of the population speaks Nepali as their first language (Vaidya and Gautam,
2008). Sharma (2008) describes Nepal as a ‘country of minorities’, as even “[t]he single largest ethnic/caste
group makes up barely 16 per cent of the total population” (p.1).
Nepal was formally the only Hindu kingdom in the world, where the king was revered as head of state and
living deity (an incarnation of Lord Vishnu), until the 2007 abolition of the monarchy to become a federal
republic. Hinduism still prevails as the dominant religion with approximately 80% of the population claiming
to be Hindu.
There is a unique overlapping of religions and ritualistic practices associated with Buddhism, Animism and
Shamanism creating a culturally diverse and yet historically peaceful co-existence. Hinduism underpins
society and largely shapes not only religious and cultural rituals and traditions but also daily social, political
and economic life. Most people’s daily lives are still entrenched in practices and beliefs based on or associated
with the complex patriarchial caste structure, laid out by Hinduism, and codified in the ‘Muluki Ain’ (National
Code) of 1854, reformed in 1963 officially abolishing the caste system. “Caste refers to a complex system of
hierarchal social classification that involves elements of race, ethnicity, and occupation and has a complex
and contested religious implications” (Shields and Rappleye, 2008b:p.266; Cameron, 1998; Parish, 1996).
“While caste- based discriminationis frequently outlawed through legislation, underlying practices and
attitudes are often difficult to change” (UNESCO, 2010:p.171). Despite critics claiming that a contemporary
state democracy should have no place for this archaic system Nepalese national identity is powerfully linked
to the Hindu caste system. “Low status is intrinsic to marginalization” (ibid). Linked inequality and acceptance
of related injustices, is an integral part of this hierarchal system and deeply embedded into the social fabric
and religious psyche of Nepalese society.