A 7.6 magnitude earthquake hit Nepal on April 25, 2015. It was the worst earthquake to strike Nepal in 80 years and was followed by a series of more than 400 major aftershocks through November 2015. It’s thought that another large earthquake could occur at any time in the future due to the region’s geographic location. The area is also vulnerable to other disasters (flooding, landslides, and drought), which are predicted to be more severe and frequent due to global climate change.
"In our travels across Nepal, it was clear that the rebuild efforts will take a great deal of time.”
Melissa Chelminiak Director of Aveda Earth and Community Care
To put it more specifically, out of the 75 districts of Nepal, the earthquake affected 31 (14 severely). And the total losses and damages caused by the quake were enormous: 9,000+ people lost their lives, 22,000 were injured, and more than 900,000 houses, 8,000 schools and 1,000 health centers in the country were destroyed. ANSAB (Asia Network for Sustainable Agriculture and Bioresources) assessed the damage in the Dolakha, Sindhupalchok and Kavrepalanchok districts within a week after the earthquake and determined that approximately 85% of the total houses were damaged in 33 villages and municipalities in these districts forcing about 25,000 households to seek temporary shelter under tents.
A Nepali community member makes lokta paper, after the quake.
When the quake struck, Aveda, too, felt the aftershocks. Having purchased lokta paper, which is used to wrap the specialty gift boxes for the annual holiday campaign, made by the citizens of rural communities in Nepal since 2007, the company reacted to the news of the devastation quickly. Since receiving Aveda’s $20,000 grant and The Estée Lauder Companies Inc. (Aveda’s parent company) $30,000 grant, both via Global Greengrants Fund and ANSAB has been working on much-needed relief and recovery support to the affected communities. And today there are some bright spots on the horizon.
“In our travels across Nepal, it was clear that the rebuild efforts will take a great deal of time,” says Melissa Chelminiak, Director of Aveda Earth and Community Care. But Sikre, one of the communities Aveda has partnered with since 2007, and one of the areas to receive some of the rebuild support money, could be considered a success. The community has been identified as a relief and rebuild model for Nepal. With a portion of Aveda funding, it has been the beneficiary of a brick-making machine that use 90% local clay and 10% cement with the goal of producing more earthquake-resistant homes. In addition, multiple clean drinking water projects built in the area with grants previously made by Aveda and Global Greengrants Fund sustained zero damage from the earthquake due to their sound construction, says Melissa.
High above the water on the left sits the Red Panda habitat.
Melissa, who traveled to the quake-ravaged territory earlier this year says that while she was in a very remote area in the mountains learning about the endangered Red Panda habitat, there was a small quake. “Talk about feeling small and vulnerable,” she says. "It brought into sharp focus how resilient the people of Nepal are. They don’t project fear; they’re humble and gentle, and the combination is really powerful.”
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