a way to help . . .

Having been through the '89 Loma Prieta California earthquake, I'm especially interested in the Nepal events. Along with my own big quake experience (nothing compared to this one), add that I have an old NOC buddy, Bob Beazley, in Nepal.  He's especially well connected and has a group of friends putting together an effort to help out the Rasuwa region of Nepal.

If you feel so inclined and want to help an exceptionally talented group who really do know what they're doing, please read and then consider a donation via this well conceived Facebook call to action or, if you're not on FB continue reading below ...

Namaste - kvk

Austin Lord

4 hrs · Kathmandu, Nepal


Dear All:

After reviewing the dimensions of current relief efforts in the district of Rasuwa, our team - Austin Lord, Galen Murton, Bob Beazley, Sneha Moktan Lord, Prasiit Sthapit, Arya Gautam, Drew Haxby, Spencer Lawley, and others with direct experience the area - has determined that Rasuwa is acutely and particularly underserved by larger relief efforts. Therefore, after much discussion and coordination with other NGOs trying to work in the area, meetings with central coordination committees in Kathmandu, reviewing satellite imagery and crowd-sourced relief maps of the area, and in-depth communication with Nepalis from that area, we have made an informed decision to start our own fundraising and relief efforts under the name Rasuwa Relief.

Please consider supporting this cause by donating funds through PayPal—to rasuwarelief@gmail.com.

We are using the PayPal system for now, to balance speed and efficacy with current controversies over bureaucracy in Nepal, and will consider shifting to a different financing platform as our efforts expand, likely in partnership with other organizations. But right now, we need to get moving, and being small and nimble is an advantage. We are setting our initial fundraising goal at USD $50,000, but anticipate attempting to raise another USD $50,000 once we begin the programs outlined below or initiate specific partnerships with other local NGOs. Below you will find more detail about our mission, proposed activities, and current plans – more information available upon request. Trust that we will do our best to ensure that these relief efforts are both precise and fair, across Rasuwa.

To promote transparency, below is a summary of our basic structure and operating principles, as well as a brief list of currently planned initiatives.


Our Mission Statement:

Rasuwa Relief exists to provide post-earthquake relief in both the immediate and long term to villages across Rasuwa – a district of Nepal's Central Development Region that is both severely affected by the 25 April 2015 earthquake and currently underserved by the aid community. This relief includes: direct humanitarian assistance for communities severely affected by the earthquake and subsequent avalanches, landslides, etc.; expert consultation on location designations for structural rebuilding efforts; and ongoing collaborative support for the durable reconstruction of villages and human security for communities throughout Rasuwa. To effectively and equitably support both short and long-term assistance to communities across the district, Rasuwa Relief will provide initial humanitarian relief at the rate of 33% to villages in the Langtang Valley and 67% to communities in other areas of Rasuwa, particularly the parts of Upper Rasuwa currently inaccessible. To bridge the gap between current and long-term needs, Rasuwa Relief will allocate 30-40% of resources for immediate disaster relief (depending on needs) and then the remaining funds will be dedicated toward long-term reconstruction in places like Langtang village. Overall, our efforts will be oriented towards both immediate triage and long-term spatial equity, towards combating persistent forms of socio-spatial exclusion, and towards facilitating a consistent flow of funds over time to support longer-term relief efforts.

Our efforts are guided by the following principles:

a) All resources will be dedicated to Rasuwa, and perhaps a few villages on the periphery of that district in similar hard-to-access geographic locations.

b) Funds will be allocated within Rasuwa as follows - roughly 1/3rd to the most-affected areas of Langtang (which suffered major loss of life, over 200 locals died in Langtang village alone, with only 15 survivors; there are now roughly 350 survivors in the entire Langtang valley, including 60 elderly and 150 children) and 2/3rds to the rest of Rasuwa, which remains a blank spot on the majority of relief maps (we are working with local partners to determine a secondary system of priority amongst these areas, and some locations such as Timure/Ghattekhola are already arising as high-need areas – more TBD).

c) Funds raised now (read: pre-monsoon) will be divided 50/50 between immediate relief and longer-term reconstruction and planning efforts (which the survivors from Langtang explicitly identified as their first priority). As time goes on and the situation shifts, we also will help to coordinate the work done by larger groups and multi-stakeholder coalitions.

Our immediate goal will be providing financial, material, and logistical support to advance the locally initiated programs for direct humanitarian assistance focused on the following themes:

a) Shelter: to provide tarpaulin, tents, solar power sources, and other materials necessary to build and reinforce temporary shelters for communities living outdoors after their homes were destroyed or rendered uninhabitable
b) Food Security: to distribute food stuffs and agricultural products in order to combat current food shortages and long-term food insecurity related to crop damage, delayed planting season, and other risks posed by the impending monsoon
c) Medical Supplies: to resupply health posts throughout Rasuwa and coordinate recruitment and deployment of professional health clinicians
d) Educational Continuity: to support education programs for children (both locally and Kathmandu-educated; of all ages) from families who have suffered casualties and for whom educational opportunities are severely threatened
e) Reconstructing Local Institutions: to initiate rebuilding of local community institutions such as healthposts, women’s groups, and monasteries that have been debilitated or destroyed

Our group will also help coordinate assistance and expertise in the following technical areas, to facilitate future community resilience:

f) Risk-Monitoring: analyzing extant risks and future instabilities during the monsoon season in highly-affected areas
g) Disaster Preparedness: Train local community members in planning and preparedness, to build capacity for the management of future natural disasters
h) Fundraising: future fundraising efforts through both institutional channels and crowdsourcing efforts to generate long-term support for Rasuwa on the basis of existing networks of sponsors, tourists, and survivors
i) Coordination/Information: to provide data and logistical services to other organizations in order to increase efficacy of humanitarian and development operations in Rasuwa and more broadly complement other efforts in the area

In our mind, it is absolutely crucial to work with Rasuwa’s own communities and grassroots organizations, and to allow the program to develop based on local needs – ongoing dialogue with locals is the only way to insure long-term resilience. We have already identified several key partners who will take the lead in designing these programs in different parts of Rasuwa. These individuals include, but are not limited to: Lakpa Jyangba and Tsering Phinju of Langtang VDC, Urken Lama and Kam Tsering Lama of Timure VDC, Karmo Lama of Briddim, Pemba Chhiring Tamang of Syaphru Besi, Sher Sing Tamang of Gatlang; Sita Paudel of Kalikasthan VDC, and Sushila Lama of Betrawati(Rasuwa/Nuwakot). We also have many contacts in the district headquarters at Dhunche. Importantly, these local representatives are outside of the district headquarters, which will also help ensure greater spatial equity. All of the above parties are both very capable and knowledgeable about local needs.


Despite severe damage to numerous villages of the district and significant loss of life, Rasuwa remains a blank spot on the relief map. Very few NGOs within the aid community have established a long-term presence in Rasuwa. Today, more than ten days after the earthquake, very little relief aid has yet reached villages and VDCs that are within one days walk of the nearest road. These deficiencies underscore both the dire present situation and the long-standing conditions of marginality that complicate relief and reconstruction efforts for communities across Rasuwa. We intend to address and help fill this space for support.

The summary of the current NGO landscape in Rasuwa (to the best of our understanding) as follows: Although a number of international NGOs have identified Rasuwa as a district targeted for relief assistance (ACF, Action Aid, Save the Children, CPCS), many of these large organizations have made blanket lists of all affected districts in the country and at this point have achieved no significant deliveries of assistance to the region. Other organizations (Helen Keller International, Practical Action) have also listed Rasuwa as a target location but as of yet have not deployed assistance because of the remoteness and present inaccessibility of the district. Alternatively, several smaller organizations with whom we now have working relationships (GOAL International, Umbrella Foundation, Resio) have directed their relief efforts specifically towards Rasuwa and are now, like us, working around the clock to get people on the ground in the district as soon as possible – they are currently stuck at Dhunche due to road closures. Moreover, other large NGOs (International Red Cross) have identified Rasuwa as a primary target location for direct relief assistance, primarily because of the dearth of other humanitarian assistance directed to the region. Finally, we have contacted and/or are reaching out to a number of Langtang and Rasuwa-specific non-profits and local NGOs, including but not limited to Nepal Educational Foundation, Karma Relief Fund, Langtang Valley Health Group, in order to create strategic and effective collaborations. As a small organization ourselves these collaborations will enable us to scale-up the actions of our own group, Rasuwa Relief, and achieve more immediate and durable impacts in the region. But right now, importantly, our firsthand experience, knowledge of the region, and contacts is giving us a lot of the momentum we need – so support us!

Our principal team members have collectively spent years conducting ethnographic research in Rasuwa, and thus have significant knowledge of the sociocultural, economic, and political landscape – as well as a network of contacts that will help greatly in insuring both the effective delivery of goods and participation. Our team has also been trained in anthropology, geography, development management, international affairs, natural resource management, economics, cartography, and engineering – giving us a blended set of skills and resources with which to help. Further, having worked in Nepal for years, we also have a nuanced understanding of the ways the social and spatial exclusion affects livelihoods, insecurity, and the distribution of resources – and thus we will seek to combat embedded problems that keep certain segments of society invisible to aid. The politics of visibility have seriously skewed international perceptions of the earthquake – the problem is fractal, a problem that can and does happen at even the local scale.

Numerous geographic and socio-economic factors also pose serious challenges to resilience and reconstruction efforts in Rasuwa. Due to the geographic limitations of the landscape, Rasuwa struggles with acute food insecurity, a problem now exasperated by damage to limited agricultural lands. Worsening the situation, a significant portion of the male population have left Nepal as labor migrants, working in marginal conditions across the Middle East and Southeast Asia under usurious contracts that preclude capital accumulation – limiting in turn the ability of these communities to shift assets and rebuild. Such are some of the wicked problems that complicate the ability of Rasuwa’s residents to respond to the current situation, increasing the need for immediate relief efforts.

Given our strong experiences and extensive networks in the district, we strongly believe that we can be highly effective in delivering aid to these areas. Further, we also intend to work closely with other scholars and consultants who have decades of experience in the region (such as Kathryn March, David Holmberg, Ben Campbell, Daniel Miller, Mark Williams, etc) who can provide wise counsel and support during design and implementation. As many of them and us have already said, the politics of visibility have seriously skewed international perceptions of the earthquake – the problem is fractal, a problem that can and does happen at even the local scale.

Right now, a nimble and fast-acting response is crucial in Rasuwa, and (like many) we believe that the actions of a smaller organization like ours are important right now. Going forward, we also think that our efforts and expertise in the area will be highly complementary to other efforts and could potentially inform the work of larger NGOs (this is, in fact, already happening). Our intent is to be a first mover and an example now, a good source of information and coordination/consultation for other parallel efforts throughout, and a backstop later to ensure that all places in need receive funds. In short, we plan to work in rural areas of Rasuwa that others have not yet reached and to help contribute to the rebuilding effort by drawing attention to places and people that might otherwise be overlooked.


Lastly, as you may already know, our commitment to Rasuwa is both rooted and genuine. Some of us were in Rasuwa at the time of the earthquake on April 25th, and we have since made significant efforts to help the people of the region - we know Rasuwa, we love Rasuwa, and we are dedicated to Rasuwa. We do not imagine ourselves as development professionals or agents of disaster relief, but given our experience in the area and the situation around us, we find ourselves compelled to act. We hope that our work will be timely, precise, and durable.

Thank you for your support. More to come.