December 29, 2019 11:44 AM NPT
The progress, or lack thereof, of the post-earthquake reconstruction has remained the major concern among Nepali people in the last four years since the devastating earthquakes in 2015 killed thousands of people and destroyed hundreds of thousands of houses and other infrastructure. The first two years saw slow progress. However, last two years have been different. According to the latest data from National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), 83 percent progress has been made in the post-earthquake reconstruction of private housing, schools, government buildings, health institutions and cultural heritages. During the press conference on Thursday, NRA CEO informed that of the total 780,165 private houses damaged in the earthquake, 482,323 houses have already been reconstructed and the remaining 18941 houses are currently being rebuilt. Likewise, out of 7553 damaged schools, 5380 schools have been rebuilt and 1787 schools are being rebuilt. Out of 1197 health institutions, 665 have been rebuilt whereas 149 are in progress and out of 415 government buildings, 359 have been reconstructed. Of the total 891 earthquake-hit heritages nearly half of them have been accomplished. All in all, reconstruction process must be called satisfactory. NRA should be credited for that but there is much to do yet for accomplishing the remaining tasks. Here is what the NRA may have to do.
First, grant distribution process should be made easy. Despite the NRA’s claim that it has been made easy, the fact remains that a number of affected households have not received the grant, which is why they have not been able to reconstruct the houses in the first place. The second aspect for NRA to look into is expedite the arrangement for single mothers and elderly to help them out in the reconstruction process. There are cases of the earthquake survivors not being able to construct their houses because they have had no support from the family and they are not able to do the work on their own.
Understandably, inadequate funds have remained a crucial bottleneck in reconstruction process. According to NRA, so far Rs 335 billion has been spent in reconstruction works, in which, Rs 293 billion was received from the government and donor agencies and Rs 42 billion from INGOs. NRA’s estimate is that additional three billion rupees is required to complete the job. As things stand, not all pledges donors made during the donor’s conference for Nepal’s reconstruction in 2015 have materialized. Reminding them and soliciting their support could help. For four years, many earthquake survivors suffered neglect. A number of them lived under the makeshift tents, even open sky. The situation is changing and things are moving forward in the right direction. This momentum should be continued by removing all the bottlenecks of reconstruction project. The government and NRA have pledged to complete all reconstruction works within two years. This has to materialize. Nepal has to set a precedent that no matter how slow the beginning, it is able to carry forward the task and achieve meaningful results. NRA should catch this momentum in the days to come too.