Editorial: Crisis in Nepal


Thursday was Phil’s Day at the University of Iowa, a day in which the virtues of philanthropy are spread around campus through advocates and distinctive yellow tape.

As UI President Sally Mason wrote in a Daily Iowan Guest Opinion (April 30), “sharing our resources with the institutions and organizations we care about and believe in so that we can make a better world is what philanthropy is all about.” 

And across the world, there is a desperate need for philanthropy: in Nepal. An earthquake registering 7.8 on the Richter scale struck the nation April 25, and more than 5,200 people have died, along with close to 10,000 injured. The number of dead could reach 10,000, according to Nepal’s Prime Minister Sushil Koirala.

INFORM, a risk-assessment group sponsored by the European Commission, has developed a chart detailing the risk of earthquakes in countries prone to them, taking the country’s infrastructure, emergency-response systems, and other factors into account. The higher the number, the more devastating the aftermath in an earthquake.

Nepal’s rating is 5.3, and when compared with Haiti at 6.3, it’s clear the situation won’t get better any time soon. The 2010 Haiti Earthquake left 160,000 dead. But the rubble is still being cleared in Nepal, and the country’s ability to respond has been hit severely.

Up to 90 percent of the health facilities in four large districts of the country have been nearly destroyed, according to the U.N. Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for Nepal. There are also concerns about the supply of clean water. The Earth’s shifts run the risk of contaminating water running through cracked pipes.

Entire villages have been cut off from aid and resources by landslides triggered in the earthquake, according to the New York Times. The rescue effort has involved helicopters and convoys of aid workers, which have difficulty navigating the mountainous terrain in the aftermath of the earthquake.

There is also a greater degree of civil unrest. According to Reuters, several hundred villagers blocked a highway with tires in order to stop traffic with aid materials headed for another district. And uneven distributions of clean water have resulted in tensions among the people.

In total, the United Nations estimates that the earthquake has affected 8 million people. It is a humanitarian crisis that demands our attention.

Iowans have already responded. The Daily Iowan reported earlier this week about a candlelight vigil held in Cedar Rapids. At the time of publication, community members had raised around $350.

In situations so dire, any amount of money can help.  In the first year after the earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010, the Red Cross raised more than $479 million. A few wealthy donors didn’t raise this amount. It was everyday citizens, philanthropists that gave what they could. In the spirit of Phil’s Day, the DI Editorial Board urges you to consider giving to the Nepal relief effort.

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