Barpark, a town of 7,900 people in Gorkha, Nepal, was on its way to be a model village in Nepal. It had relatively good infrastructure and uninterrupted electricity. There were six schools, a health post, a police station, and about 20 small businesses.
There are not many villages like this in Nepal.
Like many other parts of Nepal, however, the primary source of income in Barpark is remittances from family members who are working abroad. Located about 1,900 meters above sea level, Barpark has gorgeous views of the Himalayas, and was a popular destination for tourists before the earthquake, which brought additional income to locals.
But on April 25, 2015 things changed forever. Barpark, a town inhabited by ethnic groups like Gurungs and Sunuwars, became the epicenter of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake that hit Nepal.
Compared to other parts of Nepal, there was relatively higher media attention toward Barpark. But reliable data about the situation in Barpark wasn’t readily available. As part of Code for Nepal’s multi-year project, Rahat Payo, a group of surveyors visited Barpark in January 2016 — nine months after the earthquake — to assess whether relief efforts have been efficient and equitable, and what the immediate and long-term needs of people are, in Barpark.
Rahat Payo aims to fill a gap that exists in the aid distribution, relief and recovery process in the aftermath of the earthquake that killed over 8,500 people, destroyed more than 600,000 houses and affected at least 8 million people in Nepal. Our survey in Barpark follows Code for Nepal’s initial Rahat Payo pilot project conducted in August 2015 in 40 locations across five districts, covering 776 earthquake-affected people.
In Barpark, Code for Nepal’s team of four surveyed 703 people, approximately 9% of the total population. 400 of the respondents (57%) were female. In the village, there were more women than men. Locals told us that it’s because men have left the village in search of jobs. The average age of the respondents was 42.
While over 98% of the respondents said they received some form of relief within 1-8 weeks of the earthquake, most of them continued to live in temporary shelters, even as temperatures dropped below zero degrees celsius during the winter. Virtually everyone — 99.4% of respondents — said their house was destroyed or damaged. Over 18% were injured, and 5% had lost a relative.
Even though most people don’t have houses to live in yet, over 97% of the respondents said the local government had the capacity to respond.
Over 97% of the respondents said that they received relief materials from NGOs or INGOs. 32% also said that they received help from the government.
Over 68% said that immediately after the earthquake, food supplies were the most important relief item to them, while 71% said sanitation supplies, 22% said medical supplies, and 66% said tents.
When asked what was not available to them immediately, 81% said building materials, and 61% said cash.
When asked about their priorities over the next five years, more than 26% said they would look for employment, more than 12% said they would seek foreign employment specifically, more than 63% said they would focus on their farms, and over 61% said rebuilding would be a priority.
A few respondents, who commented on how relief could be improved in the future, emphasized the need for quick disbursement of cash and fairness when it comes to distributing relief materials.