RMF Program Manager and Clinical Officer monitoring construction
After the Earthquake
Gorkha District is one of the areas most heavily affected by the April 2015 earthquake; the epicenter was in Barpak, 15 km from the town of Gorkha. It destroyed the majority of health and educational facilities in the area and damaged about 60 percent of the birthing centers.
Three years later, and with limited resources, the people of Gorkha are still recovering. According to the 2011 National Population and Housing Census, there are 66,506 households and 271,061 people in Gorkha District. The female population is 150,020, and the male population is 121,041. The overall literacy rate is 66.34, with the male literacy at 75.09 and female literacy rate at 59.44%.
Program Manager Ganesh Shrestha (center) assessing clinic records
Soon after the earthquake, RMF began providing much-needed emergency support to the people of Arupokhari, a remote village in Gorkha District, and the RMF Health Clinic has been providing free health services to the people of Arupokhari and its neighboring villages since January 2016. In only two years, the clinic has become one of the most popular institutions in the area, as even the government health facility has been unable to provide such dignified, accessible, around-the-clock care to the locals, even during rainy season. With dedicated RMF staff, the clinic has been operating in a temporary structure in the rustic area of Arupokhari. The previous health clinic had been destroyed by the megaquake and aftershocks in April 2015, with the epicenter being nearby. The structure was rendered useful for the RMF Health Clinic by installing metal roofing sheets in place of the walls. The temporary, 2-room structure is still in use as RMF’s clinic building.
From May to July 2018, the RMF Health Clinic in Arupokhari, Gorkha has provided free, quality health services to 2,342 patients. Once the new building is completed, RMF’s clinic will be expanding its services with much-needed medical laboratory facilities and the first birthing center in the area, which will provide access to dignified maternity care.
August 2018: Program Manager Ganesh Shrestha (right) assessing construction progress
RMF Health Clinic
Construction of New Building
RMF has now started construction of a new, earthquake-resistant building for the RMF Health Clinic. The construction contract was mutually agreed upon with Global Engineering Consultants Private Limited in June 2018, and the construction is estimated to be completed by December 2018. The work is continuing at a good pace, and the construction process, quality of materials, and quality of work are being continuously monitored by RMF Clinical Officer Bishnu Sharma, as well as other members of the Clinic Management Committee. RMF Nepal’s management team has also paid two monitoring visits to the site to ensure the quality of the construction materials and process. In the near future, the RMF Health Clinic in Gorkha will start providing services in the new building, with adequate space and running water.
As another step towards sustainability, cooperation with local government, and community ownership, the RMF Health Clinic has also been accredited by the local government of Arughat Rural Municipality, Gorkha, as an autonomous health center that will report to the health section of the municipality.
- Rebuild the village as a replicable model, which will include earthquake-safe structures designed by architects and engineers
- Use local natural and human resources to ensure ownership and sustainability
- Improve healthcare access and education based on the needs of the communities and with the leadership of the local people
In line with RMF’s concepts and the government of Nepal’s vision for a comprehensive and eventually sustainable Model Village, RMF, in close partnership and collaboration with Sarswati Foundation will be working towards the development of a Model Village in Arupokhari. Sarswati Foundation has been working in Arupokhari, Gorkha since 2009 as a non-profit. This was co-founded by Subhash Ghimire, a native from that village and editor-in-chief of the Republica, Nepal’s leading English daily that publishes with the New York Times in Kathmandu.
Following the devastating earthquake, the non-profit has been actively engaged in relief and reconstruction works in the area, which includes providing food and temporary shelter relief to the affected people. So far, the foundation has delivered 7.5 tons (100 sacks of 30 kg rice, 50 sacks of 50 kg lentils, 500 sacks of 0.5 L of oil, 500 packets of 1 kg salt, 495 blankets, 350 tents) to the community, and aims to rebuild the village as a replicable model, which will include earthquake-safe structures designed by architects and engineers, utilizing local natural and human resources to ensure ownership and sustainability, improved healthcare access, education and livelihood programs, based on the needs of the communities and with the leadership of the local people.
Similarly, the village also holds a huge potential as a thriving Manaslu trekking route, along with a 600-megawatt hydro project being planned around in the area. In addition, the community is also actively engaged in production of local agricultural products and livestock. With a thought-out detailed plan, the opportunities of the village could be tapped in to create a replicable, integrated and sustainable Model Village.
RMF supports the rebuilding of Sarswati Peace School (more than 200 students, mostly from economically and culturally marginalized backgrounds) and Darbar Higher Secondary School (public school with more than 400 students), both of which were badly damaged during the earthquake. The current plan is to demolish the existing damaged structure and construct earthquake resistant buildings.
Along with the support to the reconstruction of the schools, the model village project also seeks to help build at least 100 temporary shelters and 700 permanent houses to the identified most vulnerable households in the community and one earthquake resistant local health center. Health services, education, and the economy will be supported for the long-term as the people of Arupokhari build a stronger future in collaboration with RMF and Sarswati.