Australia’s response to the Nepal earthquakes

On 25 April, an earthquake measuring 7.8 struck Nepal near Lamjung north-west of Kathmandu, followed by a 7.3 earthquake on 12 May between Sindhupalchowk and Dolakha districts north-east of Kathmandu. Both earthquakes were followed by multiple aftershocks and landslides with Kathmandu, Gorkha, Lamjung, Sinhupalchowk, Langtang and Everest Base Camp amongst the worst affected areas.

In total, almost 9,000 people were killed and about 20,000 injured by the earthquakes and resulting landslides. Critical infrastructure was damaged and destroyed, including schools, hospitals and roads with around 409,000 homes destroyed and 265,000 damaged. The Department deployed 22 DFAT officers to assist the response. This included six humanitarian officers to coordinate Australia’s humanitarian assistance and 12 consular officers to provide assistance to Australians in Kathmandu, Lukla, Pokhora and the Langtang region.

The Australian Government responded immediately to the Nepal earthquakes combining Australian people and expertise with that of our partners. The Government of Nepal announced an end to the humanitarian response to the earthquakes on 22 June 2015, Australia is now providing a package of recovery assistance to Nepal.

In response to the earthquakes, the Australian Government provided approximately $28 million1 in assistance to Nepal, including:

  • approximately $12 million in immediate humanitarian relief
  • more than $16 million for recovery and reconstruction.

Australia’s immediate humanitarian relief package included:

  • $4 million to Australian NGO partners Oxfam, Save the Children, CARE, Plan International, Caritas and World Vision to provide:
    • access to safe water and sanitation for 42,000 people
    • emergency shelter needs for over 68,000 people
    • hygiene promotion activities to reduce the risk of waterborne disease for 100,000 people; and
    • protection programs to target the needs of 25,000 women and children across Nepal.
  • $1 million to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Flash Appeal to meet urgent shelter needs and $1 million to the Australian Red Cross to:
    • distribute life-saving relief supplies, including shelter, household, kitchen and hygiene kits
    • support the deployment of health, shelter, gender and WASH experts
    • support IFRC shelter operations.
  • $1 million to the World Health Organisation for essential medicines and medical supplies, surgical equipment and instruments, mental health care, psycho-social support and management of trauma.
  • $2.7 million to the World Food Programme (WFP) to support:
    • food assistance operations targeting up to 1.4 million beneficiaries in the most affected areas of the Central and Western regions
    • logistics needs including coordination and information management, provision of emergency telecommunications and engineering assessments of existing logistics infrastructure.
  • $500,000 to the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) to establish maternity facilities and female friendly spaces, conduct up to 17 mobile reproductive health camps, and procure and distribute dignity kits.
  • $500,000 to RedR Australia to deploy nine Australian humanitarian experts to support UN operations
    • including logistics, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), communications and coordination experts working with UNICEF, UNFPA, OCHA, WFP, FAO and IOM.
  • $50,0000 through DFAT's Sexual and Reproductive Health Program in Crisis and Post Crisis Settings (SPRINT program) to provide basic health care and reproductive health services through mobile camps in remote locations. In the first five days of operations, clinical teams provided services to more than 1,500 people across ten different locations.
  • Emergency relief supplies from DFAT pre-positioned stores in Brisbane and Sabang to assist up to 10,000 people including:
    • 1,000 shelter kits and 1,234 tarpaulins
    • 1,746 hygiene kits and 80,000 water purification tablets
    • 1,000 kitchen kits
    • 3,624 blankets.
  • The Australian Defence Forces deployed two C17 aircraft to deliver humanitarian relief supplies to Kathmandu and to evacuate affected people.

Australia’s recovery package of more than $16 million:

Through partners, Australia’s recovery package focuses on three key areas that meet critical post-earthquake needs and build upon DFAT’s existing development engagement in Nepal.

  • Livelihoods: restoring lost enterprises of the very poor to stimulate economic recovery
    • The Rapid Enterprise and Livelihoods Recovery Project in partnership with UNDP will:
      • Restore livelihoods of 12,000 existing entrepreneurs in the 7-most affected districts (targeting women, Dalits and indigenous nationalities)
      • Establish up to 2,000 new micro entrepreneurs
      • Build or repair more than 139 common facility and business promotion centres.
  • Education – getting vulnerable children back into school
    • Plan Australia’s ‘Inclusive Early Recovery in the Education Sector and Building Back Safer Schools’ will:
      • Provide more than 17,000 children, particularly marginalised girls and children with disabilities, with access to education and psycho-social support in safe temporary learning spaces and help them transition back into school
      • Rebuild twelve schools in five districts
    • Two Australian Civilian Corps infrastructure specialists to support Nepal’s Department of Education with assessments, lessons learned and reconstruction planning
    • Funding support for the Global Facility for Disaster Risk Reduction and Recovery to conduct of detailed damage and structural integrity assessments of public and private education infrastructure and provide technical advice on rebuilding and retrofitting affected schools.
  • Social cohesion – addressing conflict
    • The Asia Foundation’s project to assist in resolving community disputes related to resettlement, land and resource use, unequal allocation of relief and recovery resources and increased vulnerability of marginalised groups especially in regards to gender-based violence.

Further updates

For the latest updates on Australia’s support to and relationship with Nepal, please visit the Australian Embassy in Nepal website or the Embassy’s Facebook page.

Media releases

Case studies

Turning waste into energy

Quake-hit Sindhupalchowk district supplies 85 percent of Nepal’s bio briquette demands. Sher Kumari Shrestha, resident of Attarpur village in Sikre, earns her living by making bio briquettes. “I earn Rs 1000 by making 300 briquettes on a daily basis," shared Sher Kumari, who merely earned 25 rupees per day before working with the Sikre Bio Briquette Enterprise.

Another entrepreneur Min Kumari Shrestha thinks that making bio briquettes got her life back on track when she had lost everything and was without work for months after the devastating quake. "I no longer need to ask for money from anyone. I can buy books and sweets for my children and a beautiful kurta for myself too,” said Min Kumari.

At the Sikre-based enterprise, Sher Kumari works along with 35 others who proudly introduce themselves as small entrepreneurs. Together they make 10,000 briquettes on a weekly basis. Later, all the briquettes are left to dry in the sun before packaging.  These entrepreneurs, who initially made the briquette manually, received technical support such as grinders and mixers through the UNDP’s Rapid Enterprise and Livelihoods Recovery Project (RELRP) with the financial support from Australian aid. The support has multiplied their efficiency for mass production of the briquette to meet increased demand.

“We all are still living in temporary shelters and with winter at its peak, bio briquette is not only aiding us to cook but also every night we can cope with the drop in temperature,” said the local users of the bio briquettes.

Sher Kumari Shrestha making bio bricks

Leather livelihoods

Santa Bahadur Bogati lives with his family in Sindhukot in Sindhupalchowk district. Like other members of his local community, Santa Bahadur has been following his ancestors in making leather products.

The community members became micro-entrepreneurs around 2006/2007, when they had the opportunity to access support through the Micro Enterprise Development Program (MEDEP) which creates employment opportunities for the rural poor. MEDEP is an initiative of the Government of Nepal, Australia and UNDP. With the assistance of some heavy machinery provided by MEDEP, Santa Bahadur and others in the community were able to expand their leather production and manufacturing businesses, increasing their incomes and their self-confidence.

The earthquakes in April and May 2015 destroyed a number of businesses in Sindhukot including Santa Bahadur’s. Sadly, most of his processed leather and working tools were buried under rubble. Like many other MEDEP micro-entrepreneurs, Santa Bahadur lost his access to making a living.

As part of Australia’s early recovery assistance to Nepal, Australia and UNDP set up a new program to assist those MEDEP entrepreneurs who had lost everything. The Rapid Enterprise and Livelihoods Recovery Project (RELRP) is a rapid recovery mechanism focused on restoring the livelihoods of approximately 12,000 vulnerable people. The psycho-social counseling sessions also provided by RELRP gave Santa Bahadur a sense of renewed enthusiasm. Fortunately he was also able to retrieve the buried leather and tools.

Manufacturing leather products with support from RELRP. Credit: UNDP

Machinery provided with the support of MEDEP. Credit: UNDP

Twelve months later and the spirit of micro-entrepreneurship has returned to the village. The inhabitants are now engaged in reconstruction work and making leather products, with more than 80 households working as leather micro-entrepreneurs. Their products are exported to Kathmandu and foreign countries, making them a very proud community.



Skills for life

Bhuwan B.K. is an expert in welding and manufacturing agricultural tools. He learnt his trade after spending some time working in Qatar as a labourer.

After returning to Nepal Bhuwan completed a 10-day training course in entrepreneurship offered through the Micro Enterprise Development Program (MEDEP). MEDEP is an initiative of the Government of Nepal, Australia and UNDP which Australia has funded since 1998. Through MEDEP Bhuwan also gained access to tools and materials, including a welder and a metal cutting machine.

Bhuwan graduated as a micro-entrepreneur in 2013 and made rapid progress, going from a wage worker to an employer making custom-made metal trusses, iron windows and agricultural tools.

Like thousands of others, Bhuwan’s life was turned upside down following the earthquakes in April and May 2015, when his home and his shop, which he had invested his entire life savings in building, were completely destroyed.

Despite losing so much, Bhuwan resumed work in the aftermath of the earthquake. His skills were in great demand by those trying to reconstruct damaged buildings. Bhuwan also started providing organised training to transfer his skills in welding through the Rapid Enterprise and Livelihoods Recovery Project (RELRP) the program set up by Australia and UNDP to help MEDEP Micro-entrepreneurs recover their lost livelihoods.

Although Bhuwan estimates that his life has been set back by five to seven years, he hasn’t lost hope. He remains optimistic that he will be able to rebuild his life within the next two years. He believes there are enough employment opportunities in Nepal for those with skills.

Bhuwan B.K back at work following the earthquakes. Credit: UNDP

Micro Entrepreneurs receiving support through RELRP. Credit: UNDP


1. This does not include costs associated with Australian Defence Force operations.

Last Updated: 24 April 2017