Ensure Proper Utilization of the Jajarkot Earthquake Relief Fund

Published On: November 20, 2023 08:00 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

In the wake of the devastating earthquake that struck Jajarkot and Rukum East, the government's swift action in collecting a substantial relief fund of Rs 152.80 million is commendable. However, the urgency now lies not just in disbursing immediate relief to the victims but in ensuring that this substantial fund is utilized judiciously for the long-term benefit of those affected. The current struggles of the suffering population to access relief highlight the imperative for a more efficient and transparent distribution process. Officials at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministries (OPMCM) revealed that the collected amount has been designated for supporting the livelihoods of the earthquake victims. This encompasses not only the provision of immediate relief but also the encouragement and facilitation of rebuilding efforts, particularly in terms of housing infrastructure. The earthquake, which claimed 153 lives and displaced hundreds, demands a comprehensive and strategic approach to reconstruction, ensuring that the affected communities can build back better.

Despite the laudable efforts of over six dozen institutions and numerous individuals contributing to the Prime Minister Natural Disaster Relief Fund, criticisms have surfaced regarding the perceived failure of the government to promptly deliver relief to those in need. The urgency of the situation necessitates a thorough examination of the relief distribution process to identify bottlenecks and implement swift corrective measures. Time is of the essence, and the affected population cannot afford delays or bureaucratic obstacles in accessing the assistance they desperately require. The contributors to the relief fund, including prominent names like Min Bahadur Gurung of Bhatbhateni Supermarket, Buddha Air, Rastriya Banijya Bank, Global IME Bank, Surya Nepal, CAAN, Central Payment Release, and Gorkha Brewery, have demonstrated a commendable sense of corporate social responsibility. Their generous contributions underscore the collective responsibility of both the public and private sectors in mitigating the impact of natural disasters on vulnerable communities.

As the government formulates its strategy for the allocation of the relief fund, it must prioritize not only immediate relief efforts but also invest in initiatives that promote sustainable recovery and resilience. One crucial aspect is the construction of resilient housing for the affected population. The aim should be to empower these communities to withstand future disasters, ensuring that the trauma and devastation witnessed in the recent earthquake do not recur. Transparency and accountability in fund utilization are paramount. The government must establish clear mechanisms for monitoring and reporting on how the funds are allocated and spent. This will not only build public trust but also serve as a deterrent against any potential misuse or mismanagement of the relief funds. We, as a newspaper, believe that the focus of the government agencies concerned must now shift to the effective and transparent utilization of these resources. The people of Jajarkot and Rukum East deserve not only immediate relief but also a chance to rebuild their lives in a manner that ensures greater resilience to future calamities. It is a collective responsibility to ensure that the relief fund serves as a catalyst for lasting positive change in the lives of the earthquake victims.

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