One of the biggest relief camps in earthquake-affected Nepal, situated in the capital Kathmandu, is currently providing shelter to at least 10,000 people. Photojournalist SHOWKAT SHAFI was there to find out how people displaced by the earthquake are surviving.
On 25 April, Nepal was hit by a massive earthquake measuring 7.8 on the Richter scale. It has killed thousands of people, injured thousands more, and destroyed almost 300,000 homes and heritage buildings in this Himalayan nation.
The Nepalese army is running one of the largest relief camps in Kathmandu at the Tundikhel parade ground, but it relies on local and international NGOs for donations of food and water.
The affected people are living in different relief camps across the country. Estimates suggest 2.8 million people have been displaced by the earthquake.
The biggest relief camp, where more than 10,000 people are living, is at the army ground in Kathmandu. “We took over the camp on 27 April. The whole area was dirty as more than 11,000 people spent two nights under open sky. Due to the efforts of many international NGOs, we got access to water and sanitation and the make-shift toilets for both men and women. We are a team of 250 Nepalese army [officers] working in the camp,” said Prayog Rana, the Nepalese army colonel in charge of the relief camp.
There is an ever-present threat of an outbreak at the relief camp, where displaced people fear contracting an infectious disease due to a lack of access to clean water and sanitation. “We are trying our best to maintain sanitary conditions, but with so many people, it is tough. Attempts are being made to provide water-purification tablets so that water borne diseases can be prevented,” an aid worker said.
Children, women and men form queues to receive food. The residents of the relief camps have been surviving on rationed food and water. Food here mostly comprises packed biscuits or slices of bread. The food is handed out individually to each and every person.
The Nepalese army, who are running the relief camp, distribute food twice a day. Water has become a major concern in this situation. “We get water three times a day (1 liter per person) and food twice a day. I don’t know for how long we will survive on biscuits and breads. We miss eating our rice with vegetables,” said Yogita Sheshtra, who is living in the camp.
“These tents are overcrowded and uncomfortable. I haven’t slept properly ever since I came here, because I am always scared and I feel unsafe sleeping like this,” said Dina Shahi, 35, whose house was devastated by the deadly quake and who now lives in a make-shift tent.