A humanitarian aid worker from Peckforton has told of his ‘immensely challenging’ experience providing medical assistance in earthquake-stricken Nepal.
Jonathan Povey was deployed to the South Asian country as a member of a Department for International Development-funded disaster response team and arrived four days after the catastrophic 7.8 magnitude shock of April 25, which killed more than 8,000 people and injured thousands more.
For the first week and a half, the 34-year-old medic was based in a hospital in Kathmandu, the nation’s capital, where he supported paediatric trauma treatment.
Then, as a Save the Children team leader, he set up a mobile clinic attending to the hardest-hit villages.
It was when he was in the remote settlement of Bansbari in central Nepal that the second major quake hit on May 12.
Jonathan said: “The health centre, which was already damaged by the first earthquake, started to partially collapse. The local community started screaming and running to a safe open space away from the building.
“The 7.3 magnitude earthquake on May 12 has meant that many more families are back to sleeping outside, for fear of falling debris from buildings or further aftershocks.
“With the monsoon season only four to six weeks away, and the possibility of more damage from this latest strong afterschock, there is a pressing need for durable shelter solutions to be planned and implemented as soon as possible.”
Jonathan, who works as a locum operating theatre staff when he’s not responding to natural disasters, returned home on May 16.
Reflecting on his time in Nepal, he said: “It was an immensely challenging environment to work in, helping families and children in their darkest days.”
For Nepal to get back on its feet, he believes that disaster risk reduction should be integrated into all response programmes to ensure it can ‘build resilience to shocks and stresses, protecting communities from future crises, as well as from secondary emergencies such as potential floods and landslides’.
He is also calling for psychosocial support, for children in particular, to mitigate the potential long-lasting psychological and social impact of the tragedies.