Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding Lift Nepal After Earthquake

by Amrit Sharma on July 2, 2015

Amrit Sharma · The WE Cycle · July 02, 2015

05-KTM-Durbar-SquareWhen a magnitude 7.8 earthquake rocked Nepal on April 25, in the blink of an eye thousands of lives were lost, centuries-old monuments turned to dust, and the Himalayan country came to a grinding halt. But a community sprang up to help.

Nepal is one of the poorest countries in the world, yet countless travelers and backpackers have experienced the richness and warmth of the Nepali people. Since the earthquake, that generosity and hospitality turned inward as people there cared for one another. Fear, uncertainty and confusion gripped the country, but amid chaos, people stepped up to give a helping hand to those most affected by the earthquake.

Across Kathmandu, neighborhoods, colleges and youth groups raised funds by knocking on doors, organizing car washes and launching crowdfunding campaigns. Many groups collected food items and rented trucks to deliver them into the hardest-hit areas. The message was unanimous across Nepal: “We will rise again.”

A local software company, Kathmandu Living Labs sprang into action, not by clearing rubble, but typing away on their keyboards. The KLL team is a passionate group of young software developers who build internet-based technology solutions to enhance urban resilience and civic engagement in Nepal. Within 24 hours of the earthquake, the developers launched QuakeMap.

QuakeMap is a crowd-sourced “crisis map is to match the earthquake-hit people’s needs with ongoing relief efforts.” It democratizes critical earthquake updates, and empowers people from across the world to contribute and get updates in real time.

Almost immediately, reports started pouring in from all over Nepal with relief needs, landslides, reports of missing people, stranded villagers in remote areas, and details of where aid has been delivered. The QuakeMap website soon became an invaluable resource to international aid organizations and even the Nepal Army. The information flowed into the QuakeMap databases via the internet, phone calls and email messages from people across Nepal.

People in 89 countries across the world visited QuakeMap to submit and get real-time information on the earthquake, including messages from friends and families of missing travelers in Nepal.

Among those helping are Austin Lord and Galen Murton, U.S. Fulbright Scholars and doctoral students who are coordinating a team of other scholars, development workers, and volunteers in Rasuwa District with Rasuwa Relief.  They’re crowdfunding to buy tents and food for the region, and also sharing daily updates about relief supplies, road blocks, landslides and other critical information at QuakeMap.

The earthquake and its relentless aftershocks have flattened hundreds of villages, triggered thousands of landslides and kept people on edge with fear and uncertainty. The WE Cycle generation in Nepal and abroad was vocal and active, and it brought out the best in people – they not only opened their hearts to Nepal, but their wallets too. Crowd-funding websites, CrowdRise and GoFundMe, saw dozens of successful campaigns to raise money for relief work in Nepal.

The JRM Foundation , led by Dr. Fahim Rahim MD FASN, a nephrologist in Idaho, has raised more than $225,000 for earthquake relief efforts, with contributions from thousands of people across the United States, Nepal and beyond. The average donation so far has been $295, with many $10 and $20 contributions.

Nepal has started trudging along the long and difficult road to recovery, which will cost more than 7 billion dollars. There will be major challenges along the way, but with people looking out for one another and taking an active role in the country’s recovery, the early signs are promising that Nepal will rise again.

Photo Credit: Amrit Sharma

 

Amrit Sharma is a Freelance Journalist and Entrepreneur based out of airport lounges around the world. He loves to travel, drink coffee and say “Why not?” Follow him on Twitter at @amrit_sharma.

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