Jaivir Singh, Vice Chairman, PwC India Foundation
It was a matter of time; a question of when, not if. Located in a high seismic zone in the Himalayas with active tectonic processes, Nepal has always been prone to earthquakes, like many other countries that are located in the Himalayan region. On 25 April 2015, Nepal was struck by what has come to be regarded as one of the worst earthquakes in the history of humanity—both in terms of intensity and the lives it claimed.
We at the PwC India Foundation immediately knew that we had to act, and act fast. I visited Nepal a few days after the earthquake to assess the immediate requirements of the region, identify key stakeholders and gauge how well the Foundation was placed to address the needs. Over the next couple of years, assistance to Nepal became one of the most cohesive corporate responsibility programmes that the Foundation has managed, and is an example of how we can respond to humanitarian emergencies globally. As a first step, the Foundation facilitated contact between the largest private foundation in Nepal, the Chaudhary Foundation (CF), and an India-based NGO, SEEDS, which specialises in disaster relief. In July–August 2015, health and hygiene kits with essential toiletries, medicines and first aid materials were distributed to 2,000 families across 14 affected districts as an immediate relief measure which benefited 10,000+ individuals. Through these efforts, crucial products were provided to address the needs of remote communities before the monsoon. At the same time, PwC India’s business team started assisting CF through pro bono advisory services towards impact assessment, need assessment, fund management, and monitoring and evaluation of CF’s transitional shelter programme.
In the recovery phase, through generous contributions from its employees, PwC India raised funds which were matched by the firm in India to build 100 transitional shelters in two villages, namely Gairung and Taklung in Gorkha district, one of the regions facing considerable supply chain challenges in Nepal. These homes were handed over to 100 high-need families in December 2015 and benefited over 500 individuals. As a rehabilitation measure and to strengthen the public healthcare system of Nepal, a pro bono project funded by PwC Global and managed by the Foundation was initiated by our India Healthcare Advisory team in August 2016. The aim of the project was to devise a roadmap for strategic and operational transformation of the largest public hospital in Nepal, Bir Hospital in Kathmandu, a measure intended to improve the resilience of the public healthcare system in Nepal. The Foundation was fortunate to have another partner on board, the PwC Charitable Foundation, Inc., which, as a long-term measure, funded the construction of five permanent homes for five economically weak families in Nyagal village, Dolakha district. A total of 32 people who were residing in temporary shelters will benefit from these houses. Professional mason training was provided to selected individuals of the Nyagal community, and the houses were constructed by the beneficiaries themselves under the supervision of an engineer. This fostered a sense of ownership and involvement in rehabilitation efforts.
15 April 2018, the day on which the five permanent houses in Nyagal were handed over to the families, marked the culmination of this project. The greatest learning for the Foundation team from this project has been to forge timely connections with relevant stakeholders across countries and deliver a comprehensive package of assistance to a community in need. As humanitarian emergencies become more frequent and complex, the private sector has a far more embedded and engaged role to play going forward, helping communities, institutions and individuals to rebuild their lives after a natural calamity.
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