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"Preparedness matters": Prince Harry visits Red Cross emergency site

21 March 2016

On Sunday 20 March, His Royal Highness Prince Harry visited the Nepal Red Cross Society in Bhaktapur, where earthquakes caused havoc in 2015.

This was one of the first stops on the Prince’s tour of Nepal almost one year after two massive earthquakes last April and May. The earthquakes killed over 8,000 people and left hundreds of thousands homeless.

A garland for the Prince

Prince Harry spent time with staff and volunteers from the Nepal Red Cross Society, including those who were involved in the immediate response after the earthquake.

He also visited a Nepal Red Cross emergency stock site in Bhaktapur. The facility started work immediately after the earthquake struck, providing blankets and tarpaulins to 800 families in the first 24 hours.

Prince Harry was greeted with a garland and a tilak – a forehead mark – as a sign of respect. “Preparedness matters,” said Prince Harry after touring the site and hearing about the Nepal Red Cross’ work in preparing for disasters.

Volunteers in action

The swift emergency response after the earthquake was possible precisely because the Red Cross was prepared for the disaster.

The British Red Cross had already worked with our partner the Nepal Red Cross Society for three years in the earthquake-prone Kathmandu Valley. This included pre-positioning supplies such as blankets and tarpaulins in four sites around the area. 

When the time came, the goods were ready for us to distribute to people affected by the earthquakes. For example, 110,000 tents or tarpaulins were given to families whose homes were damaged or destroyed.

Disaster preparedness also involves training volunteers in first aid and search and rescue operations.

When the time came, almost 8,000 staff and volunteers put their training into practice as soon as the earthquake hit. Many helped even though they lost their own homes and businesses.

During the visit, Prince Harry saw how volunteers are already preparing for future disasters.

Public support was vital

The British Red Cross launched an emergency appeal on 26 April 2015, the day after the first earthquake hit. The appeal raised over £9.1 million through the generosity of the British public.

Mike Adamson, chief executive of the British Red Cross, said: “As we welcome and thank Prince Harry for his visit, we must also thank the British public. 

“Without their constant and valued generosity and commitment to the work of the Red Cross, we would not be able to continue to work with the Nepal Red Cross Society to bring recovery to this beautiful country.

“Our brave colleagues in Nepal put their lives on the line to bring relief to those in dire need from the moment the earthquake struck. 

“The British Red Cross is immensely proud of their actions and honoured to work alongside them. The preparedness work enabled staff and volunteers to tackle such a huge emergency response in the most efficient and collaborative way possible.”

The British Red Cross continues to work alongside the Nepal Red Cross Society to help people rebuild their country and their lives.