पुनर्निर्माण अपडेट

Lessons learnt from private housing reconstruction

After two and a half years, the NRA has gained valuable lessons in post-disaster reconstruction and recovery, which will be useful for future planning.

By Manohar Ghimire

The government of Nepal established the National Reconstruction Authority on 25 December 2015, with a legal mandate to lead and manage reconstruction activities in 32 districts, affected by the April 2015 earthquake. The institution envisions the “establishment of well-planned, resilient settlements and a prosperous society.”

Since the past two and a half years, the NRA has been leading and coordinating multi-hazard resilient reconstruction, retrofitting and restoration of damaged infrastructures and houses, as per the Sendai Framework that recognizes the post-disaster reconstruction as an opportunity to build back better. It is identifying appropriate sites to resettle displaced communities, building resilient communities and developing opportunities for economic growth.

The NRA has undertaken various initiatives that has facilitated or catalyzed the reconstruction process with effective results. Nepal’s post-earthquake reconstruction is an example in itself as it’s an owner-driven process in which the government housing grant is transferred directly to the beneficiaries. Besides, the vulnerable villages situated in hazardous locations are being relocated; integrated settlement approach has been introduced; and efforts have also been converged towards preserving and improving the cultural and historical sites. 

The NRA has also made sure that the reconstructed infrastructures comply with building codes and disaster risk reduction measures are taken to ensure resilient reconstruction. Apart from the private housing reconstruction and infrastructures, the NRA has also been organizing and coordinating various livelihood support programs, capacity building trainings and have focused on ensuring social inclusion, and environmental and social safeguards. Further, the NRA has also been coordinating and managing partnerships with various development partners. 

After two and a half years, the NRA has gained valuable lessons in post-disaster reconstruction and recovery, which will be useful for future planning.

For example, we have experienced that the damage assessment survey should be conducted using reliable and scientific tools to ensure that no victims are left in the reconstruction process.

Mass awareness should be created on building quake-resilient structures and the beneficiaries should be effectively communicated about the terms and conditions of receiving the government’s private housing grant. For example, the beneficiaries should be made well aware that they cannot receive the grant without complying with the government’s building codes. 

Another key lesson learnt is that the official processes involved in transferring grant to the beneficiaries should be simplified and appropriate measures should be taken to ensure that the beneficiaries do not build uninhabitable houses just to receive the grant. Houses that pose risk should be demolished. 

Similarly, effective and efficient coordination should be facilitated in the activities of I/NGO’s to minimize redundancy and streamline reconstruction efforts towards achieving the common goals of NRA. For this, an efficient monitoring and evaluation system should be established. 

Moreover, the NRA should have a compact and robust organizational structure and stability must also be ensured in the institutional setup at the local level. For this too, a proactive and effective method should be employed to retain technical manpower at the local level. 

And lastly, it is necessary to provide subsidies on construction material to the earthquake victims, conduct research activities on disasters and establish resource centers at the local level.

(Ghimire is Under Secretary and Deputy Spokesperson of the National Reconstruction Authority)

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