The Nepal earthquakes - one year on

On Saturday 25 April 2015, Nepal was hit by a major earthquake, which killed 9,000 people and injured tens of thousands more.

We look at how the country has recovered one year on and the role Livability’s International team played in supporting Nepal’s primary spinal cord injury centre.

Livability begins partnership in Nepal

Back in 2001, Livability International’s Stephen and Maggie Muldoon were attending the first ever Asian Spinal Cord Network (ASCoN) Conference in Bangladesh. They met a board member from the Spinal Injury Rehabilitation Centre (SIRC) in Nepal and a partnership was born.

The International team has also assisted SIRC in:
• establishing new services
• expanding its human resource and organizational capacity
• providing necessary training for its staff at regional and international institutions
• creating new resource mobilization and fundraising strategies
• hosting the ASCoN Conference in Nepal on three occasions
• developing partnerships with national, regional and international organizations working in the same field.

The Nepal earthquakes

The first earthquake, measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale, hit on 25 April 2015. A second earthquake followed on 12 May 2015 which was nearly as powerful. Both earthquakes left two million people homeless.

The first earthquake measured 7.8 on the Richter scale

Many sustained spinal cord injuries, which can be complex to treat and can have devastating and life-changing effects.

As soon as the earthquake hit, the Livability International team travelled to the country to provide vital support to SIRC near Kathmandu and Livability ran an emergency fundraising appeal to respond to the needs.

Direct Relief sent emergency resources and supplies to Nepal quickly after the disaster totalling $36 million. The scale of spinal cord injuries was so significant that SIRC was allocated the second largest shipment to the sum of $6 million.

The normal capacity of SIRC is 50 beds but the earthquakes caused an estimated 400 spinal cord injuries so the centre was modified to accommodate up to 150 patients at any one time.

SIRC soon became part of the World Health Organisation (WHO) rehabilitation effort as Nepal’s only spinal injury rehabilitation centre.

DfID’s Director General Joy Hutcheon visited SIRC to see the substantial efforts of the centre

Livability responding in the UK

In response to the earthquakes Livability set up the Nepal urgent care and rehabilitation appeal to support the work of its partner organisation SIRC. The Livability International team also flew out to Nepal to support the centre from a consultative standpoint in order to cope with the large influx of patients.

Dealing the physical injury is not enough to rehabilitate a patient. Livability International and SIRC focuses on the whole person – the psychological, social and economic aspects are all essential in a person’s recovery.

Continuing the work in Nepal

Read the remarkable stories of two women now giving back to their community here

Livability’s Nepal Appeal brought in nearly £95,000 to support the work of SIRC and continues to raise funds for the Nepalese community.

Patients that were rehabilitated at SIRC now help to provide support for new patients. A vibrant community that has begun to thrive at SIRC and many people who have given support now have the skills to give back to the wider community.

VIDEO: Stephen Muldoon explains how Livability International support countries overseas