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Mission on the Roof of the World: One Year Later

The earth often quakes – most recently in Ecuador, Myanmar and Japan. On April 25, 2015, a severe earthquake of magnitude 7.8 struck Nepal, at the roof of the world. In regions around the capital, Kathmandu, almost 9,000 people lost their lives and 100,000 were seriously injured. Many more lost their homes and any access to clean water. Experts from the THW Rapid Deployment Unit Water Supply Abroad (SEEWA) were deployed as part of the immediate emergency intervention and immediately set about alleviating the problem with lack of potable water in Nepal.

The primary task of this special international THW unit is water purification. The THW was the first international operational organisation to prepare urgently needed drinking water in Kathmandu and start distributing it to the population. In total, its operatives were able to hand out 1.4 million litres of potable water – the equivalent of 10,000 bathtubs. The unit also deploys a mobile laboratory for testing the quality of the water they prepare to ensure it met the requirements of the World Health Organisation (WHO), since contaminated water is a health risk.

However, water purification was not the only task undertaken by 33 THW operatives who served in Nepal. They also provided assistance to the crisis committee at the German embassy, as well as the United Nations (UN) and the European Union (EU), providing advice on logistics, assessing structural damage to buildings, and carrying out deliveries of relief supplies. The volunteers ended their deployment in Nepal after one and a half months.

Two further THW volunteers went to the country in July. At a location north-east of Kathmandu, they installed electricity and water facilities in two World Food Programme (WFP) base camps for international aid workers erected by the International Humanitarian Partnership (IHP).
The THW is prepared for international emergencies with its SEEWA and SEEBA (Rapid Deployment Unit Search and Rescue Abroad) units. They can deploy within a few hours of a crisis or disaster to deliver humanitarian assistance anywhere in the world. There are also other specialist units in the THW specially designed for missions outside of Germany.

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