He Is A Retired Engineer On A Mission To Improve Lives In Nepal

Meet Rudra Bahadur Neupane, a 2018 Disaster Feedback Fellow of the Disaster Recovery Network at GlobalGiving.


 

Rudra Bahadur Neupane wasn’t looking for a job.

He’d officially retired from his 17-year career as a civil engineer in the private sector.

Then, on April 25, 2015, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. The quake killed nearly 9,000 people and damaged 800,000 homes.

Rudra’s retirement was short lived. He dove into earthquake recovery efforts with an organization he co-founded with a friend after graduate school, PHASE Worldwide. PHASE aims to break the cycle of poverty and lay the groundwork for a self-sufficient future in Himalayan mountain villages by working with communities and local authorities.

In the aftermath of the earthquake, PHASE brought clean drinking water to remote villages and helped repair damaged schools and homes. Fast forward three years: Rudra now leads staff and disaster recovery projects full-time for PHASE.

“At the onset of a disaster, many people are affected, and they need immediate support. But there’s another side to it: If you can do something before a disaster strikes, you can reduce so many deaths and losses,” Rudra said.

Rudra navigated a wave of post-earthquake challenges, including a shortage of labor, a spike in building costs, a slow government response, and high staff turnover. Qualified staff were hard to find due to an influx of INGOs to Nepal after the earthquake. PHASE persevered.

“We were OK because we are present on the ground. Our staff was there,” Rudra said.

Most of PHASE’s earthquake recovery projects are now wrapping up.

Rudra’s recent visit to one village is a testament to the quality of their work. Everyone who lived in the village greeted him and PHASE donors with flowers as a sign of their gratitude.

“We focused on communities in hard to reach areas where there were no other organizations working. We had a very small amount of resources. But whatever we had, we brought to the people. And that brought some happiness to their faces,” he said.

Today, Rudra believes PHASE and communities in Kathmandu Valley are better positioned to respond to another disaster, should one strike. The government now collects and shares more information about its citizens and their needs with nonprofit organizations, Rudra said, leading to more efficient collaborations. PHASE has learned so much—and Rudra wants to share it with as many people as possible.

“Every year, we discuss the risk of an earthquake in Kathmandu Valley,” Rudra said. “But there is really little preparedness outside of the valley. I think it’s a good idea to start talking about preparedness in other parts of the country.”

Rudra is a 2018 Disaster Feedback Fellow of the Disaster Recovery Network at GlobalGiving. Learn more about the fellowship.

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