Kathmandu, Nepal, April 25, 2016 -- A year after the Nepal earthquake, thousands of families remain in temporary shelter as the monsoon season approaches. Delays in approving reconstruction laws have impeded efforts to build earthquake-resistant houses in some of the hardest-hit regions of the country.
Shankar Pradhananga, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages Nepal, talks about the challenges that have hampered our efforts to rebuild homes for earthquake survivors. He also explains the hardships that those living in makeshift shelters will face as they head into the second rainy season since the earthquake.
It has been a year since the earthquake that destroyed or damaged an estimated 750,000 homes. Many thousands of families, particularly those in the hilly and mountainous regions, remain in temporary shelter. What is causing the delay?
Nepal endured months of political instability, and this caused delays in taking the concrete steps to rebuild the country after the earthquake. It took almost eight months to form a Reconstruction Authority. Even after the formation of the Reconstruction Authority, there have been further delays. For instance, the government wanted to verify that the houses were destroyed before they agreed to provide the promised subsidy of NPR 200,000 [$1,880] per family.
The verification process is very slow and people are very desperate to know when they will receive the subsidy from the government so they can start construction. For organizations like SOS Children’s Villages, the government has not yet announced the guidelines on how and when we can help rebuild the houses of individual families.
The monsoon season typically begins in June and runs until September. What does this mean for reconstruction?
Even if some of the families start to rebuild their houses now, they may not be able to finish before the monsoon rains. So it is very likely that lots of those who lost their homes in the earthquake will have to face the hardship of spending their second monsoon season since the earthquake in tents and temporary shelter. People living in the hills and mountainous areas especially will have a tough time – they will face torrential rain, floods and landslides.
The government and donor agencies need to be proactive and further strengthen temporary shelters and tents before the forthcoming monsoon rains begin.
If construction begins now, how long would it take to build a new home for a family?
It will take at least three months to build an earthquake-resistant, one-storey house.
There have been reports of shortages of building supplies, construction equipment and black market profiteering since the quake. How much impact will this have on the reconstruction process?
The market is gradually coming back to normal and particularly for construction materials, there is no black market profiteering. However, prices of construction materials have risen and once people start to rebuild, there is likely to be a scarcity of construction materials as well as manpower, and costs are likely to rise.
What needs to be done to overcome the obstacles and start providing families in need with homes?
We, along with the earthquake victims, will have to pressure the government to speed up the decision-making process so the reconstruction work can be started as soon as possible.
To learn more about SOS Children’s Villages and its relief efforts in Nepal, click here.