On the ground in Nepal: A first-person account of the earthquake

As many of you may have heard, a devastating earthquake struck Nepal last month, killing more than 8,000 people. Not three weeks later, a magnitude 7.3 earthquake again rocked the mountainous country.

Sulav Paudel, who coordinates the work that the IPM Innovation Lab carries out in Nepal, (in partnership with iDE Nepal) lives and works in Kathmandu. He was in a van on the way out to one of our field sites when the first earthquake hit. Here is his account of the tragedy, aftermath, and struggle for recovery:

As I write this blog post on Tuesday, May 12, earlier this afternoon another big earthquake, of magnitude 7.3, has struck Nepal. It was just starting to feel normal again, after the first earthquake, but now people are again afraid to go inside their homes and offices, and most of them are staying and sleeping outside. The fear is more as now people don’t know when the next earthquake will hit again.

When the most recent earthquake hit, I was in a van travelling to Kavre District to meet with the district agriculture development officer to plan an agriculture rehabilitation program. The van and everything around us started shaking and swaying as if we were intoxicated. I also realized that our driver was having a hard time controlling the vehicle. Meanwhile, there were continuing aftershocks which seemed like they would never stop. We saw an old house on the side of the road crumble right away and also witnessed houses at a distance going down in the nearby hills. We decided to cancel our trip and after waiting for an hour, drove back.

The first earthquake on April 25 was more terrifying. No one was expecting it to happen, and in addition to some people losing their homes, several thousands of people died. People were traumatized and felt helpless. Luckily, all my family are safe, but my heart bleeds for thousands of my fallen brothers and sisters who lost their lives as well as for the thousands of others who are dealing with injuries and hundreds of thousands who will have to work hard to get back to any semblance of a normal life.

A house destroyed by the earthquake.
A house destroyed by the earthquake.

As of Tuesday (May 12), more than 8,000 people have died across the country. This places the earthquake among the deadliest worldwide in recent times. It was heart-wrenching to see families spending nights sleeping outside for fear of further building collapses, and water and electrical supplies disrupted due to food shortages.

People in rural areas were greatly affected. This is in large part due to the fact that most houses in these areas are made of mud and are thus highly susceptible to quakes.

After the first earthquake, I rushed to visit the community of Ranagaun-Lele in Lalitpur, which is about an hour’s drive south of Kathmandu. This village has a special place in my life, because this is where I started my career in agriculture as a site officer back in 2009. It was very hard for me to see almost every house in the community completely destroyed. Most people were living out in the open, although a few were under the plastic houses built to grow off-season tomatoes.

makeshift shelter

Read more of Sulav’s account in OIRED’s COMPASS blog post.

On the ground in Nepal: A first-person account of the earthquake