| May 23, 2019

Study of int'l agencies says quake-affected children undergoing various problems

KATHMANDU, June 1: A study of various international agencies have found that a large section of children in five of the 14 districts worst hit by earthquakes last year are still undergoing through serious problems even 13 months after the natural disaster.

The study showed that 23 percent of the children are still facing trouble sleeping for fear of another earthquake, 33 percent are living in temporary shelters or damaged houses, 30 percent are studying in unsafe environment, 57 percent of them are studying in schools that lack access to toilets, 30 percent are facing challenges in accessing medicines, increase in respiratory problems by 32 percent than before the earthquake and 76 percent of them are not being consulted on their views by decision makers and humanitarian responders, among other findings.
The study entitled "Children's Voices, Children's Rights: One Year after the Nepal Earthquake," jointly conducted by United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), Save the Children, Plan International, Terre des homes and World Vision International. The report is based on consultation with 680 children in the five affected districts while 36 officials at central and district levels were also interviewed during the study.

The study also showed that some progress has been made such as access to water and sanitation in the community but the children are still facing serious problems in the community. "Over 50 percent of children share their beds with family members, and 27 percent of children reported being uncomfortable in these conditions, which could have repercussions of children's health, development and protection," pointed out the study which was released on Tuesday. "For example, the lack of space at home was often mentioned in discussions to justify the lack of confidence children have about successfully passing their exams."

Under-secretary at the Ministry of Women, Children and Social Welfare Dr. Kiran Rupakheti agreed with some of the findings of the study. However, he was not happy with the report for mentioning only about the negative aspects. "Some of the issues presented at the report are relevant but some important aspects are missing in the report," he told Republica. "So I advised them to include also the positives progresses done during this period."

He informed that the government had already launched some awareness program to avoid children's negative thinking about the devastating earthquake. He also said that the government has also planned to conduct some more awareness programs in future to treat the psycho-social problems in the affected districts.

"I am also a father of some children. They don't fear about earthquake as they used to do immediate after the quakes," he said. "Despite that, in some of the affected areas we certainly need to introduce some programs focusing mainly on counseling of children. That's why; the government has planned to launch awareness programs in near future."

The study has recommended the government agencies to take serious care about children's safety and about their awareness about earthquake during the recovery and reconstruction process as well. The study underscored on the need of accelerating the reconstruction tasks and integrating disaster risk reduction efforts into all recovery and construction programs.

UNESCO last year estimated that over one million children have been affected in the county by the earthquake on 25 April and 12 May 2015.