It's been a tragic and difficult year for many in Nepal in the aftermath of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake and the hundreds of aftershocks that followed. There was extensive damage across the country, with more than 8,000 people killed and close to 900,000 homes destroyed or damaged. MCC's response is ongoing, and will continue to be.
Bruce Guenther is the Disaster Response Director for Mennonite Central Committee Canada. He says much of the damage was in rural areas where MCC has ongoing programs, primarily regarding agriculture and nutrition.
"So in one district that originally the government didn't include as being severely affected, actually had about ninety per cent of the houses...destroyed."
Guenther offers some additional details on some of the other key projects MCC has been involved in over the past twelve months.
He goes on to say that while basic needs are still required in many areas of Nepal, MCC Canada is moving forward with a reconstruction plan that just needs the Nepalese government's stamp of approval.
"The government has put aside resources to help with reconstruction and so the key thing that we are working on right now for planning is conducting training with construction workers and masons so that when they do reconstruction...the housing will be earthquake-resistant."
Guenther adds while the hope was that these plans would have been approved quicker, MCC Canada is trying to work within the system in Nepal. He anticipates the approval will come down this spring/summer.
With one year of relief efforts already under their belt, Guenther says the expectation is that MCC's work in Nepal will extend between three and four years. "It does take time, especially if we want to do things properly, and we want to coordinate well with the government to make sure that the people who really need assistance, get it."
Guenther is thankful for the generous support that MCC has received from both Canada and the United States, donations surpassing the $3 million mark. "The majority of that money has been set aside for these longer-term reconstruction activities." He is also thankful for the partnerships that have been formed on the ground in Nepal, creating the ability to provide more urgent assistance to people in need.