In April 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, the most powerful to occur in the region in 80 years. A month later, an aftershock of 7.3 magnitude caused further devastation. More than eight million people were immediately affected, destroying homes, basic infrastructure, including hydro- power plants and transmission lines for electricity, productive assets, and businesses in both rural and urban areas. Mercy Corps Nepal responded within 48 hours of the first earthquake, distributing emergency relief supplies to affected communities.
Through the initial emergency response phase from May-August 2015, Mercy Corps reached 23 400 households (117 000 people) with unconditional cash transfers (the provision of money to individuals or households, either as emergency relief intended to meet their basic needs for food and non-food items or services, or to buy assets essential for the recovery of their livelihoods) through local service providers and with consolidated NFRIs within the worst affected communities in four primary districts; Kavrepalanchok, Sindhupal- chowk, Dolakha and Nuwakot.
This article in HEDON boiling point magazine focuses on the impacts of access to improved ‘Tier 1’ energy products in Mercy Corps’ Nepal earthquake response efforts. The article presents how energy access was selected for inclusion amidst competing priorities, presents initial post-distribution monitoring data that reflects how families are using and valuing the energy products provided, and discusses key lessons for humanitarian response practitioners providing relief in acute emergencies, including addressing the risks of market spoilage. Among recipients of the non-food relief item kits, three main factors influenced receptivity to solar:
- Improving safety and mobility
- Restoring normal routines with family
- Avoided costs or savings on lighting and mobile charging