Tents. They were the most visible items after the earthquakes of 2015. Whether they were makeshift shelters that sprouted in open spaces in Kathmandu, or proper tents that were set up to provide essential services to the people affected by the earthquakes, tents became a ubiquitous sight in post-earthquake scenario in Nepal. With more than 750,000 homes destroyed or damaged, the people living in the earthquake-affected districts in the hills of western, central and eastern development regions of the country were forced to take shelter either in camp settings, or had to live in makeshift shelters next to the rubble of their homes. With 80 per cent of the health posts damaged or destroyed, services had to be set up under tents. Likewise, with 43,500 classrooms damaged or destroyed beyond safe use, temporary arrangements had to be setup for children to run classes.
Families spent the hot summers, the wet monsoons and the cold winters in temporary living spaces. Girls and boys played under the tents of child-friendly space that were set up to keep them safe from harm, to engage them, and to help them get over their stress. With nearly 35,000 classrooms destroyed, many of these children were studying under temporary learning centres for the past year. In this way, the school children came back to their routine within six weeks of the first earthquake.
Some of the most visible tents in the Kathmandu Valley were those provided to hospitals by UNICEF. These huge white tents could be seen in the courtyards and parking lots of all major hospitals for many months. The continuous rocking due to strong aftershocks in the first two months meant neither patients nor medical staff felt safe inside buildings. As a result, not just outpatient departments, but treatments, as well as surgeries were held under these tents. All of these centres were equipped with emergency medical, midwifery and surgical kits.
The tents that are being used even a year after the quake are those set up in health posts that were totally damaged by the quakes. Similarly, tents provided to shelter pregnant women waiting for labour or after they delivered their babies in 11 districts most affected by the earthquake are still being used. These shelters provided a safe and caring environment for women and their babies, as well as their caretakers. All of them were provided with hygiene kits, and four meals a day, free of cost. When winter set in, and when fuel crisis gripped the nation, these shelter homes were further outfitted to protect those who stayed there from the cold, and blankets were distributed to keep children and women warm.
This pictorial publication has been produced to highlight the services provided by various tents whether they housed the child-friendly spaces, the temporary classes, medical services, shelter homes or radio stations. But more than the services, it focuses on the people – the children, adolescents, men and women who lived, took shelter, provided or availed of services under the tents.