May 8, 2015
Webinar Explores How Donors Can Help Nepal’s Recovery

Himalayan Mountains. Photo credit Keso S

 I had the privilege of participating as a panelist on a teleconference organized by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy (CDP) regarding issues to consider in responding to the Nepal Earthquake. CDP is raising money for a pooled fund to make grants for mid to long-term reconstruction in Nepal.

A summary follows as well as the link to the audio recording.

I am grateful for the leadership provided by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy, The Asia Foundation and Interaction, a trade association of nearly 200 international NGOs, 60 of which are responding in Nepal.

May 4, 2015 By Anna R. Hurt

The April 25 Nepal earthquake killed more than 7,000, left thousands injured and millions without homes or food. While immediate response is underway, it will take time to determine the extent of future recovery needs, according to experts who took part in a May 1 webinar hosted by the Center for Disaster Philanthropy and Council on Foundations.

Joel Charny, vice-president of humanitarian policy and practice at InterAction, said that the four most immediate needs were shelter, food, medical care, and clean water and sanitation systems. Complicating response is a badly damaged road and air infrastructure, along with significant landslides and debris blockages, Charny added.

Dr. George Varughese, Nepal country director for The Asia Foundation, added that the monsoon season, which begins in six weeks, is anticipated to create additional landslides in the mountainous area, further delaying relief and recovery efforts.

“It’s my fear that people who are already homeless will be internal refugee for six to nine months,” Varughese said. He also noted that many people, as they are able, would likely migrate from the hard hit mountainous areas to Nepal’s plains, creating new population centers and shifting problems in providing victims aid and resources.

For donors seeking to make a difference, lessons learned from the 2010 earthquake that hit Haiti offer valuable guidance.

“Philanthropy was indispensable to the response [in Haiti],” said Karen Keating Ansara, fund advisor, Ansara Family Fund at the Boston Foundation. “While foreign aid pledges were made, they often weren’t fulfilled.”

Ansara added that engaging a county’s U.S. diaspora is an important response.

“The diaspora of any country is one of its most priceless resources,” she said. “They have the passion, they have the staying power, and they often have tremendous technical expertise.”

As efforts in Nepal move to the relief and recovery phases, there are many considerations for donors interested in responding. Charny, Varughese and Ansara all agreed that finding and investing in organizations with a long-term presence in Nepal was vital.

“There are tremendous immediate needs,” Charny said. “But if a funder is able to hold their fire and see what emerges in terms of mid and long-term projects, those will be just as vital to recovery.”

U.S. public interest in the Nepal disaster is beginning to slow, and that means funders will need to step up, Ansara said.

“After public attention slows, it’s so important for institutional funders to have a long-term perspective on the reconstruction,” she said.

Listen to a recording of the webinar here.

Anna R. Hurt is the disaster management analyst at the Center for Disaster Philanthropy. She can be reached at

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Reprinted by permission