Denver-based international non-profit iDE is mobilizing its 86-person team to provide emergency relief to remote villages in Nepal in the aftermath of a catastrophic earthquake. For an organization that is dedicated to increasing rural people’s incomes through innovative agriculture practices, disaster relief isn’t business as usual. But the need was so great that on Saturday morning, country director Luke Colavito made the decision to pivot. Their deep roots in rural communities put them in a good position to quickly deliver this critical disaster relief while putting their long-term projects on hold.


Three days after the quake hit, iDE was the first to reach the village of Ranagaun, situated in the outskirts of Kathmandu, with basic needs for survival.

The following day, the team delivered assistance to the village of Tanke in the Kavre district, just to the east of Kathmandu, where they provided 60 households with food and temporary shelter. Within one week, the team had reached over 1,000 people. Headquarters is raising funds to help them reach even more.

The food supplies are enough for one week and include noodles, rice, and other dry foods. They are also providing chlorine to ensure people are drinking safe water. The plastic sheeting can be used immediately as temporary housing, and later as a greenhouse for growing tomatoes.

Luke’s decision to pivot was covered in National Geographic.

“’We’re not a relief organization. We’re not experts in this,’ says iDE’s Nepal director Luke Colavito. He says his staff and volunteers have worked in the communities for so many years that they wanted to help and were the first to reach the frightened villagers, who depend on his irrigation pumps for their livelihood: growing crops.”

Luke is already planning his next pivot. Soon, the team will begin shifting from straight relief work to agricultural recovery support and rapid latrine installation to prevent cholera and other waterborne diseases.

“Right now people are in shock and aren’t able to focus on the need to begin planting,” says Luke. The iDE Nepal team is looking into establishing nurseries to grow seedlings of needed vegetable crops. In roughly a month, when people realize that they should have been planting, they will be able to access seedlings through the community based nurseries and therefore won’t miss the growing season.

iDE has deep roots in Nepal, where it has worked for 23 years. The organization has particularly strong connections with the poorest of the poor who live in remote corners of the country.

If you want to donate, please visit www.ideorg.org.

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