THE BLOG

How We Can Protect Children in Nepal

11/05/2015 17:20 BST | Updated 11/05/2016 10:59 BST

It is now two weeks since a deadly earthquake struck Nepal but, with the media attention currently focused on the results of our general election, it is so important that we don't lose sight of the dangers that children are facing in the aftermath of this disaster.

When an emergency hits, our staff will always be among the first to respond - doing everything we can to keep children safe. Our colleagues were able to deliver aid in the immediate aftermath but the scale of this disaster was something that no one could have predicted, with an estimated 1.7million children seriously affected. With this many children in danger, we must all step up our efforts to keep them safe. We rely on the continuing generosity and support of the British public and they have never let us down. With your help, these are some of the ways that we can protect children in Nepal:

Providing safe and clean water to families

After an earthquake, getting safe and clean water to children and families is one of Unicef's first priorities. When homes are destroyed and families are living in temporary shelter and overcrowded camps, the lack of drinking water and sanitation is a big problem and personal hygiene becomes a real challenge. It may take weeks or even months before water systems and networks are repaired, particularly in some of the most seriously affected villages which are very remote and difficult to access. Contaminated drinking water can cause diseases like diarrhoea to spread and Nepal also has regular incidences of cholera, so there's a real danger of an outbreak.

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Unicef responded immediately to the needs of children and our staff on the ground are delivering trucks of safe drinking water, establishing toilets in camps and distributing water kits and water purification tablets to families. We've already been able to reach over a quarter of a million people.

Ensuring children have a safe place to learn and play

Our colleagues in Nepal are very concerned that the great strides that have been made over the last twenty-five years in increasing primary school enrolment - from 64% in 1990 to more than 95% today - could suffer a serious setback. They tell us that almost a million children in Nepal will not be able to return to school unless urgent action is taken.

Unicef are distributing school supplies to all affected districts and we are also setting up what we call 'child-friendly spaces', where children can come to learn and play with other children and receive psychosocial support to help them deal with the emotional and psychological distress of what they have witnessed and experienced. At the same time they can be given lifesaving information on hygiene, nutrition and health. So far, we have set up child friendly spaces for almost three thousand children affected by the earthquake.

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"I like being here. It is like my school," says seven-year old Jayanti while she works on a puzzle and reads a book to her younger sister, three-year old Manita.

Protecting children from dangerous diseases

Unicef are targeting more than half a million children in an emergency vaccination drive, as fears grow of measles outbreaks in the informal camps. Teams are working to immunise children under the age of five in the three most densely populated districts in Kathmandu Valley and the drive will continue into the twelve districts worst-hit by the earthquake.

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Two-year-old Zoffin can't look as he receives a measles and rubella vaccination, but his mother, Jeena, knows how important it is. She brought him to the health post from their temporary shelter:

"I heard about the vaccinations and I wanted to come. We all survived the earthquake, but we know disease is a risk."

To help us keep the children of Nepal safe, text DONATE to 70123 to give £5 or visit unicef.org.uk/nepal and give what you can.