Nepal: Social Workers at Frontline
Since the Nepal earthquake struck on the 25th April social workers have been responding and engaging fully in the rescue and recovery efforts. Mr Om Krishna Shrestha, Secretary General of the Social Workers’ Association Nepal (SWAN) has been in regular contact with IFSW throughout this period providing updates on the challenges the social workers face and their responses.
IFSW Secretary General, Dr Rory Truell has congratulated SWAN on behalf of the international community: Nepalese social workers have also suffered trauma and homelessness and find themselves in a very chaotic and uncoordinated environment where at times, the multiple agencies attempts to provide aid have caused more harm than good. But the social workers have organised to provide social work assessment services that guide the aid agencies and government to provide the right aid to the right people. The SWAN social workers along with the social work educators and students are demonstrating the power and significant contributions of the social work profession. IFSW stands in support and solidarity with Nepalese social workers in this challenging time. We honour their skills and contributions and wish them the greatest strength’, he said.
To see the first update from Mr Om Krishna Shrestha and Ms Pradipta Kadambari of the Nepal Schools of Social WorkUpdate, see this link
Updtae: 4th May 2015, from Mr Om Krishna Shrestha of SWAN
“The situation of relief distribution has now come to a difficult level. It indubitably is due to the potential wrath between distributors and local people during relief supply, and threat of seize. Many supporters are rushing towards disaster zones with relief supplies but not really with coordinated efforts, prior inspection of the site and potential risks.
Information in advance could have been much support to the relief distribution. As a result, insufficient and inefficient relief supplies is what we distributed. The act of unorganized support resulted inadequate relief distribution to the victims and it further boosted the dispute at local level.
Consequently, The Social Work Association of Nepal held a meeting yesterday to brainstorming how to unlock the complication at field. The meeting came up with decision to mobilize team of social workers in eight different disaster zones to study the situation. Today, the mobilised team came up with handful information and we designed a strategic intervention to deal with the complication at field
This includes forming an assessment and relief distribution committee at local level prior to the intervention, in which representatives from political parties, ward/VDC secretary, local leaders, local youth clubs and police personnel will be involved. Thus formed, assented-committee will support our mobile team to collect the household information based on the loss and support needed. Thereafter, relief support will be distributed with the help of same committee. It also has few shortcomings like taking time for coordination to form a committee, politicisation in relief distribution, refraining from coordination etc. however, under its requisite conditions we believe it is effective at distributing relief supplies. We are prepared and trying our best to establish coordination among all stakeholders.”
Update 5th May, from Mr Om Krishna Shrestha of SWAN
Through RNA and observation, in most cases we found demand for tent. It is obvious that, as the raining season is closing, most of the earthquake survivors (especially who lost their beloved, family members and house) demanded support for shelter. They have lost their houses and it is not possible to built them back within few months. Particularly, because most of these people are relatively poor in the community.
They have only ever lived in mud and raw brick houses and food has always been their first priority. They own no lands and work for others and can only afford one meal for a day. However, we’ve been coordinating with a team of structure engineers to support them with techniques to build temporary house at the moment and we are also planning to training them with earthquake friendly and withstanding houses. The good thing about the support is they themselves involve in building houses.
Yesterday, we mobilised our team to dispatch 20 tents for Nuwakot, 33 tents to Dhading and 25 distributed in Kumari Gram-cha, a locality at Baluwa, Gokarna. Updates from other locations are yet to come.
Also on the 5th of May SWAN held a planning meeting with members of Counselling Psychology and Social Studies College to develop a strategy to mobilise trained psychologists in the Kumari Gram-cha, Baluwa-8, Gokarna areas to provide trauma counselling.
However, for a long-term approach, we are providing teachers and mothers groups with classes on the techniques of ‘Psychological First Aid’ and self-care for children in school and/or home. The orientation classes will be provided to the community participants as a part of awareness and self care program.
As our volunteers are extensively involved in relief distribution and support, they also might experience negative psychological affects by what they are seeing and dealing at field every day. Therefore SWAN has also decided to provide a session to our volunteers about self-care and counseling, if needed.
On the second half of the day, meeting with CWISH (Children Women in Social Service and Human Rights- Non Government Organization) was held on to establish Child Friendly Learning Center at Baluwa and to source material assistance for the center. The program manager Mr. Saroj K.C. agreed on to support establishing the center and providing resource materials.
May 6th May
Today we held a meeting with a team of civil engineers to trace the possibilities to build temporary houses utilising local resources and remaining of the damaged/destroyed houses, if reusable.
We went back to the community to coordinate with the government institution at local level for our program. Official letters were dropped at ward office, area police and schools to inform our presence and work at community. The Government institutions responded well and assured us with providing required support to the intervention. Coordination with Government institutions and local stakeholders’ like Ward office/VDC, area police, DPRC, Ward citizen’s forum is must to avoid duplication, overlapping of the support and to settle any challenges during the intervention.