Hygiene, monsoons next big risks for Nepal

Earthquake victims stay in tents in Ratna Park, Kathmandu.
Raj K Raj | Hindustan Times| Getty Images
Earthquake victims stay in tents in Ratna Park, Kathmandu.

Just days after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake, a deepening sanitation crisis and looming monsoons are threatening to deal fresh blows to the disaster-stricken nation.

The country's annual rainy season officially begins in June and typically lasts until September, bringing daily heavy downpours as well as the risk of floods and landslides, which are sure to hamper relief operations. The Ministry of Earth Science has already warned of thunderstorm activity during the next few days.

"With monsoon season coming, there are hundreds and thousands of people without permanent shelter, so finding shelter solutions over the next two months will be extremely important, especially in rural areas," warned Mark Smith, senior director of emergency affairs at World Vision, told CNBC.

Read MoreNepal quake impact could exceed 20% of GDP

Nepal is not unaccustomed to monsoon-related issues, but the government has failed to implement sufficient precautionary measures. Last August, torrential rain resulted in extreme flooding that killed over 100 people and displaced thousands.

"When the weather turns, communities will be at greater risk from landslides. As part of our first wave of response, we will focus on providing shelter materials like tarpaulins, blankets, and mosquito nets so displaced persons can at least have somewhere safe to sleep," Mattias Bryneson, country director of charity Plan Nepal, said in a statement on Monday.

Spread of diseases

Saturday's earthquake and subsequent aftershocks cut off Nepal's electricity and water supplies, resulting in little access to clean water.

"If water is not clean, it raises concerns about cholera. Water needs to be trucked in and placed into big bladders or tanks and you'll have people lining up with jerry cans. The other solution is to provide tablets to purify water and make it potable," said Smith of World Vision.

Google launch 'Person Finder' for Nepal quake
Google launch 'Person Finder' for Nepal quake   

Water is already fairly scarce within the Kathmandu valley even at the best of times, added Mark South, beneficiary communications delegate at the British Red Cross.

Moreover, with Nepalis resorting to camping outdoors, the lack of proper hygiene facilities and broken sewage systems heighten the risk of epidemics like dysentery.

"Diarrheal diseases are a major issue as it can get dangerous when there are people living in large numbers without adequate sanitation," South continued.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that only 27 percent of the population has access to adequate sanitation, adding that diarrheal diseases, dysentery, cholera and typhoid are the primary causes of death in the country.

To make matters worse, doctors are in short supply. Only 2.1 physicians are available for every 10,000 people, according to WHO. Reuters reported on Monday that hospitals are overflowing, with doctors resorting to treating patients on the street.

For now however, people are still focused on rescuing survivors with the death toll rising every day, noted Sanjay Karki, country director of Mercy Corps.

Medical supplies are trickling in from neighboring India and Pakistan but experts are still assessing the extent of damage since damaged roads has made access to rural areas challenging.

The quake is said to be the Himalayan region's worst humanitarian disaster in over 80 years and over 4,000 are already feared dead. Find out how you can help here.