The Everest Network

By: Johnny Baltzersen 

When disaster strikes, the media is filled with dramatic images of death and destruction. But also scenes of heroic efforts to save lives and limit the scale of the disaster.

For many reasons, large relief organizations take up a lot of airtime. They are the ones who have the logistics to quickly establish a massive presence in the center of the disaster. And they are the ones with the resources and network to speak up.

However, effective humanitarian response is closely linked to local preparedness. It’s the in-depth knowledge of the local conditions that determines whether the help really makes a difference. Such local knowledge is inherently located with people and organizations that live and operate in that area.

When two massive earthquakes and hundreds of aftershocks hit Nepal in April-May 2015, national and international organizations flocked to come to the country’s aid. Without roots in or knowledge of the hardest hit areas, the large corporations engaged many small local organizations – community based organizations/CBOs – to implement the initiatives.

As readers of this news blog know, floods last year hammered the Helambu area, which is also unfortunately located midway on an east-west axis between the two 2015 earthquake epicenters.

And as readers know, CICED’s partner JUST Nepal Foundation was on the ground both times, working with dozens of young people from the joint projects to save lives and property and help communities get back on their feet.

The accidents in 2015 and 2021 were not and will not remain lone swallows in Nepal. The country is extremely vulnerable to earthquakes, floods and climate change. Nepal ranks number four, ten and thirty on the risk lists for climate change, earthquakes and floods respectively. So there are all kinds of good reasons to be prepared for more destruction. Preparations that should focus on avoiding or at least limiting fatalities and material damage.

Natural disasters are random, but they are not blind to social hierarchies and discrimination. Experience from Nepal shows that it is often the most disadvantaged, and therefore the hardest hit, who receive the least help. If they get help at all.

In its 2022 report on climate change, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) states that effective adaptation, mitigation and response to climate change requires the voices of those living in and with change to be heard.

It is against this backdrop of climate change and inevitable recurrence of natural disasters, injustice and inequity in relief work and the need for strong local leadership that a new network of local organizations has emerged in Nepal: The Everest Network.

The network is further motivated by very concrete experiences in the aftermath of the 2015 earthquakes. Many small community-based organizations had been carrying out lots of relief work on behalf of large national and international humanitarian organizations and had been drained of capacity. Since the large organizations had no knowledge of the local area, local CBOs were inundated with funds and unrealistic demands and expectations, while their key employees were recruited for better-paid jobs in the large organizations that had a temporary presence in the local areas.

The goal of The Everest Network, which initially has ten members, is:

  • inspire and utilize each other’s resources to better meet the challenges of climate change.
  • Better understand how we can support local communities in adapting to the growing uncertainty brought about by climate change and ensure preparedness to reduce the impact of natural and climate-related disasters.
  • Advocate for local communities to play a central role in the design, planning and implementation of adaptation and preparedness interventions.
  • advocate for a shift in disaster response and financing from a reactive to a proactive model.

CICED’s partner JUST Nepal Foundation has been chosen to coordinate the network and CICED has secured a CISU grant of 99,000 DKK for the network to conduct a series of workshops and seminars over the next eight months.

Members of The Everest Network

  1. The Resources Center for Rehabilitation & Development -Inclusion
  2. HELP Nepal -Education
  3. Just Nepal Foundation -Youth & Education
  4. Global Inclusive -Environment
  5. Lo Gyalpo Jigme -Conservation & Cultural Foundation
  6. ASK Nepal -Agriculture
  7. Bikalpa Training Center -Child Protection & Capacity Building
  8. Soiya Mahila Swabhalambi Sanstha -Women’s Rights
  9. Community Based Rehabilitation Service (CBRS) -Disability
  10. Youth Foundation Nepal
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