Nepal earthquake 2015

“It’s almost time to prepare the rice seeds for cultivation. When our house collapsed, rice seeds that we had stored got mixed with the rubble. You gave us the seeds right on time.”
- Indra Khadka (36) of Tripureshwor VDC, Nepal

On April 25, 2015, a 7.6-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. The quake and its aftershocks affected an estimated 8 million people—more than a quarter of Nepal’s population. Nearly 9,000 people lost their lives, more than 22,000 were injured, and about 850,000 houses were damaged or destroyed.

Thanks to an overwhelming response from generous Kiwi supporters, and others from all around the world, Oxfam was able to respond within hours of the first earthquake, and we were about to stick around for the long-term and help communities build back better.

Oxfam's response in numbers

In the twelve months following the earthquake, with the help of our generous supporters, Oxfam has reached more than 480,000 people including: 

  • 35,000+ people now have access to clean water
  • 49,000+ people have received hygiene kits
  • 7,900 toilets have been installed
  • 9,700+ people have received emergency food assistance
  • 54,000+ people now have emergency shelter kits
  • 33,000+ farmers have received rice seeds to restart their livelihoods

Today, three years on, we have reached a total of 619,000 people.

Saving lives: our immediate response

In the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, getting basic, life-saving supplies to individuals and communities, and preventing the outbreak of disease, was the first priority. We provided relief to the seven worst affected areas — Gorkha, Nuwakot, Sindhupalchok, Dhading and three districts in Kathmandu. This included...

  • Providing emergency food items
  • Providing safe drinking water
  • Setting up temporary shelters
  • Constructing emergency latrines

During the first weeks, we distributed staple food supplies, alongside rice seeds and agricultural tools for farmers. Outside of Kathmandu Valley, our teams battled logistical challenges, such as blocked roads, to reach communities in remote areas. We managed to ship vital emergency supplies to Gorkha, near the epicentre of the quake, as well as providing tarpaulins, rice, water and sanitation equipment to other hard-hit rural districts.

As the monsoon approached, we put in place stocks of chlorine tablets, tarpaulins and seed bags so that during the rains, people in isolated communities had access to safe water, shelter and could store their seeds to plant later in the year.

Women load Oxfam winter and shelter kits onto their backs ready to walk home, in Madanpur, 37km outside of Kathmandu. Photo: Kieran Doherty/Oxfam


More than 600,000 houses were totally destroyed, and a further 290,000 were damaged; women, the elderly, people living with disabilities and female-headed households were likely to find rebuilding their houses most challenging.

Oxfam started providing emergency shelter kits comprising tarpaulins and ropes three days after the earthquake. Later we distributed improved temporary shelter kits including corrugated galvanized iron sheets and roofing accessories, along with toolkits.

Oxfam provided training to local builders and local women in how to build safe temporary shelters and later we carried out training on earthquake resistant building methods. 

The immediate priority was to provide a roof for families before the rainy season, then - with a focus on the approaching winter - to provide items to insulate shelters such as thermal floor mats and groundsheets, blankets, mattresses and hot water bottles, as well as sheeting to help waterproof shelters.

In the past year, as part of our long-term response, we have…

  • Supported the construction of 186 houses for vulnerable families displaced by the earthquake
  • Trained 1,529 people in masonry and retrofitting
  • Trained 150 people in making Compressed Stabilised Earth Bricks
  • Provided door-to-door technical assistance to 17,119 households

Bimala Balami, 27, was employed by an Oxfam cash for work scheme to rebuild an irrigation channel and path in Dachi Nkali, Kathmandu Valley. Photo: Kieran Doherty/Oxfam

Food and livelihoods

The earthquake affected the livelihoods of around 2.3 million households and 5.6 million workers and has significantly affected farmers and food production, which many communities rely on for their income.

During the emergency response, distributions of food supplies took place, alongside rice seeds and agricultural tools for farmers whose own supplies were lost or damaged in the earthquake so farmers could start growing again quickly. Cash for work programmes were also run to engage people with debris clearance.

In the recovery phase we provided cash grants and training for people to restart their businesses (which in turn will also help to restart employment opportunities for their employees). We also continued to pay locals to work on the regeneration and maintenance of community infrastructure.

In the past year, as part of our long-term response, we have...

  • Supported the construction of 77 agriculture-related production infrastructure, like irrigation canals etc, benefitting 29,415 individuals
  • Supported 237 people into employment via Urban Job Hub


In a disaster, it is often society’s most vulnerable who are overly affected and in Nepal, women, the elderly, people living with disabilities and female-headed households found the recovery most challenging.

Of the houses damaged by the earthquake, 26% belong to female-headed households.

Oxfam has been working with vulnerable women and girls to ensure they receive the support they need, including installing separate toilets with locks for women and building safe bathing spaces. We also re-established and strengthened women’s centres to help bring vulnerable women support, training and advice and to ensure they have access to government help and relevant legal documents.

Water, sanitation and hygiene

Of the 11,288 water supply systems in the 14 most affected districts, 14 percent sustained major damage, and 32 percent were partially damaged. Approximately 220,000 toilets were partially or totally destroyed. This significantly reduced access to suitable sanitation facilities and compromised access to safe, clean water.

Oxfam has been repairing and rehabilitating water sources and restoring access to potable water in hard-to-reach areas. Latrines have been constructed or repaired, and hygiene kits containing essential items have been distributed. In camps for people forced to leave their homes, we distributed safe water.

We are now working towards sustainable water and sanitation provision, including water rehabilitation in schools, and major repair and rehabilitation of damaged water supplies in the hill districts.

In the past year, as part of our long-term response, we have...

  • Supported the construction of 79 water supply systems benefitting over 35,000 people
  • Provided improved water and sanitation facilities in 37 schools

The girls' toilets at an Oxfam-supported temporary school. Photo: Kieran Doherty/Oxfam

Hear from those helped

“From that far away, although they did not see with their eyes, they saw with their hearts and sent support.” Til Kumari Khadka, Sindhupalchowk, Nepal.

“I cannot even imagine myself being able to live here if the tap hadn’t been rehabilitated. Life would have been really hard... You supported us when we were in such a dire situation. You helped us and I would like to thank you for that.” Muna Tamang Giri, Sindhupalchowk, Nepal.

“After the earthquake, Oxfam constructed this new water supply system and tank, which is nearby. I don’t have to spend time on collecting water. I can spend more time with my children, look after them, send them to school on time. I can keep my children clean.” Tirsana Archaya, Sindhupalchowk, Nepal.

Tirsana and her son Aman. Photo: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Oxfam AUS

Read some stories of change

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July 27, 2015

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Latest blogs

Building back stronger in Nepal, one year on

April 26, 2016

Oxfam has provided water and sanitation in temporary schools in Gorkha, Nepal, after many were destroyed in the 2015 earthquake. Photo: Kieran Doherty/Oxfam

Nepal: One year on

April 14, 2016

In the wake of the deadly earthquake that struck Nepal on April 25, 2015, Oxfam in Nepal and its local partners provided life saving support to over 480,000 people.   

Nepal earthquake response: six months on

October 27, 2015

Six months on, Oxfam has already reached 445,000 people with food, access to clean water and sanitation and support in shelter in seven affected districts. We are still working hard in Nepal to help communities get back on their feet after the earthquake.