Major donors and Red Cross—the largest humanitarian partner—have renewed their support for reconstruction bid in Nepal as the country commemorated the first anniversary of the devastating earthquake.
This is one of the most daunting natural catastrophes ever in Nepal’s history, European partners said in a joint statement on Sunday.
As part of a larger response, European Partners, including the European Union (EU), the United Kingdom, Germany, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark, Finland and France have collectively pledged 328.75 million euros approx Rs39.3 billion) for the relief, recovery and reconstruction efforts.
The donor community, including India, China, Japan, World Bank and Asian Development Bank, has pledged over $4 billion in support to Nepal in the face of last April’s quake that killed nearly 8,000 people and left more than half a million families homeless.
“This tangible sign of solidarity was made during the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction (ICNR) in June 2015,”the statement says.“The people of Nepal, who have shown admirable resilience in the face of adversity, aspire to build back better the devastated areas.”
But the donors have raised concerns over lack of political commitment on reconstruction, slow pace of reconstruction work and dearth of manpower to assist the National Reconstruction Authority.
“The NRA has been established and it is important that this body has the means to fully embrace its role,” it says, adding “The European Partners will support a pivotal role of a strong NRA and we are committed to firmly stand by Nepal as a friend in times of need and to contribute to the reconstruction process.”
Similarly, Japan also renewed its commitment towards the reconstruction bid. “The government of Japan and JICA have already started the support to the NRA, in cooperation with other international donors, to reconstruct damaged houses and school buildings in the most damaged districts,” the Japanese Embassy said in a statement.
The Red Cross, meanwhile, said that shelter remains the foremost humanitarian priority need yet thousands of survivors are still living in sub-standard temporary shelters which is “compromising their dignity”.
Welcoming the progress from the government in finalising guidance on reconstruction to channel support for people to rebuild their homes, the Red Cross reasserted its committed to improving disaster-preparedness and building safer communities in Nepal for the long term. “The organisation said Nepal Red Cross Society, supported by Red Cross and Red Crescent partners from around the world, had reached more than three million people with emergency help,” it said in a statement.
‘Marginalised folk missed out on aid’
Many of the most marginalised and vulnerable communities missed out on aid like cash distributions during the critical emergency response phase of the relief effort, according to a report by Save the Children.
The report titled ‘Did the Humanitarian Response to the Nepal earthquake ensure no one was left behind?’, released on Sunday says as many as 600,000 households remain without permanent shelter.
Due to lack of formal rebuilding programme in the past 12 months partly due to the sheer scale of the disaster and the massive logistical challenges in an extremely mountainous region millions of families are still living in temporary shelters covered by tarpaulins, under bridges and in unsafe buildings, it reads.
“Though millions of people in Nepal have been reached with vital healthcare, water and hygiene support, food, temporary shelter and education, the response could have been better in some areas,” said Save the Children Country Director, Delailah Borja.
Borja added the mountainous terrain of Nepal, poor conditions of roads and fuel shortages added to the difficulty in reaching the most isolated and vulnerable communities. Getting out to many of the more remote and often badly affected areas was almost impossible with roads cut off from landslides, while many villages were only accessible by foot.
Save the Children claims to have reached out to over 580,000 earthquake survivors so far. With more than 28,000 classrooms destroyed, over 7,000 schools which need to be rebuilt, it has stated that building safer schools also remains its priority.
Naya Shakti flays slow pace of rebuilding
The Naya Shakti Nepal on Monday criticised the government for slow progress in the reconstruction of damaged structures and providing relief to earthquake victims.
In a statement released on the first anniversary of the Great Earthquake, Coordinator of Naya Shakti Baburam Bhattarai said though one year has passed there has not been much progress in providing government grant to the quake-affected people.
“The government is totally irresponsible when it comes to providing relief to people,” said Bhattarai, accusing the government of failing to check the fake recipients of state aid and massive corruption in the activities related to reconstruction and relief works. “People are compelled to stay in temporary makeshift and health and education related infrastructures are yet to be revived which has affected the millions people,” he said, adding the current pace of working would take decades to complete the reconstruction projects.
The Naya Shakti also charged that parties were involved in the corruption and appointing their cadres in the Nepal Reconstruction Authority. “We strongly demand the investigation into alleged corruption in reconstruction and rehabilitation,” Bhattarai said.
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