The Rising Nepal (Editorial) – September 18 2018
Amid difficulties and delays, the nation has moved forward with progress in reconstruction works with the BBB mantra of ‘building back better’. The vision is futuristic with consideration on disaster resistance and safety but technical assistance and financial shortfall may stand as impediments in this endeavor. As the prices of construction materials and labor wages continue to soar, the remaining portion of reconstruction has become even more challenging. Though significant headway has been made in the reconstruction of private homes in the worst affected areas, much remains to be done to restore the Tatopani trade route with China and rebuild the priceless heritages of the country. At this juncture, adequate political priority and sound financial resourcing are important for timely completion of reconstruction projects. Financial shortfalls arising out of work delays and inflation need to be addressed so that the national reconstruction works do not end up in tatters. The National Reconstruction Authority said the other day that the nation needs Rs. 600 billion to complete the rest of the reconstruction works. In the international conference held after the earthquake, Nepal’s friends including the bilateral and multilateral agencies had pledged a support of Rs. 343 billion. Though the Post Disaster Need Assessment (PDNA) initially put the total reconstruction cost at Rs. 669 billion, later reviews increased it to Rs. 938 billion. This is mainly due to subsequent increase in reconstruction grant amounts and larger coverage of houses needing retrofitting. Increased donor support may be needed to cooperate in the national effort of reconstruction by addressing the financial shortfall. But the government’s implementing agencies should not be creating an impression that they are making inordinate delays and, thus, ballooning out the reconstruction costs.
The devastating earthquake of May 2015 had its impact on multiple areas of life, including livelihood, health, education, environment, trade and economy. People, forced to relocate from their ancestral land, had to look for new source of livelihood and new place to send their children to schools. Some kids had to drop out of school to work for a living or to take care of domestic chores when their parents were away in search of work. The victims had to struggle hard to manage a shelter, find means of livelihood and purchase a plot of land to construct a new home. Finding a water source within a viable distance was a challenge. Access to school, health facilities, marketplace, jobs, fertile land for farming and cultural adaptation posed a lot of difficulties. Life is not fully secure until there is economic security for a decent living. The reconstruction projects had to focus on various sectors like private homes, schools, healthcare facilities, government offices, heritage structures and development infrastructure. Infrastructural devastation had a huge toll on trade and economy. For instance, the damage of the vital trade route between Nepal and Tibet of China had huge impact on trade. Huge losses of foodstuffs, cattle and other vital belongings had invited a crisis of serious kind. People had to go through added woes as water sources dried up and ruptures developed by the quake resulted in landslides and rock-falls. Rubbing salt to the wound was the Indian economic embargo in the aftermath of the quake that had crippling effect on reconstruction efforts.