A National Reconstruction Authority Publication
The NRA’s private housing reconstruction initiatives triumphs are extraordinary in rehabilitating the earthquake victims in safer houses. Whilst, NRA has magnificently accomplished key targets as majority of beneficiaries have completed the reconstruction efforts, yet there are few remaining beneficiaries who are unable to construct in particular the vulnerable groups. The Grant Payment Mechanism instigated by NRA through the Banks & Financial Institutions(BFIs) to the earthquake beneficiaries has been pioneering in enhancing financial inclusion to unbanked segments. Apart from the additional top up of NPR 50,000 financial assistance to the vulnerable households, the earthquake beneficiaries can obtain the NRA initiated Government backed concessional loan policy provision of “The Unified Procedure of Interest Grant for Concessional Loans, 2075 (2018)” targeting to support the disaster-prone victims in nine different types at subsidized rate from the BFIs for private housing reconstruction and in income generating livelihood programs. Under this provision, maximum amount of the loan NPR 300,000 is to be offered to the earthquake beneficiaries who have only received first tranche and not able to complete the reconstruction due to financial constraints. So, it’s crucial to create awareness to access concessional loans and avoid informal lenders as the vulnerable victims may be subjected to financial exploitation.
The socio-technical assistance is one of the component of safeguard activities. The concept of Socio-Technical Assistance team was envisioned as a 'Mobile Team' by 1st Environmental and Social Management Framework (ESMF) disclosed in March 2016. Subsequently, in point no. 104, it was mentioned, "During the construction of the individual houses, a mobile team consisting of technical team (overseer), environmental officer/mobilizer and social monitor will regularly supervise whether the key social and environmental requirements are being considered in the construction". But the Mobile Team could not be mobilized at that time then the concept was removed in 1st revision of ESMF (October 2018). In the course of regular implementation of safeguard activities, the concept of STA was re-initiated in 2019 and again included in 3rd revised ESMF - April, 2020.
Central Level Project Implementation Unit (CLPIU) Building, through respective District Level Project Implementation Units (DLPIUs) have recruited 246 social mobilizers and 755 mobile masons in 14 most severely earthquake affected districts (Dhading, Dolakha, Nuwakot, Okhaldhunga, Sindhuli, Ramechhap, Sindhupalchowk, Kavrepalanchowk, Rasuwa, Makwanpur, Gorkha, Kathmandu, Bhaktpur and Lalitpur).
In general, vulnerable means the quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally. Vulnerability is the inability to resist a hazard or to respond when a disaster or any terrible situation has occurred. People in particular who are in old age, children, people living with disability, people suffered by chronic diseases, single women, poor and marginalized people are more vulnerable at the time of natural or man-made disaster. Such people require more support and care from the family and society.
National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has identified 18505 vulnerable people from the earthquake affected 32 districts and these people are divided into four vulnerability criteria as below:
NRA has mobilized the Socio-technical assistance team to support the vulnerable households who are not able to complete the reconstruction of their house. Besides that, Nepal Government has approved a provision to provide additional top up on cash grant with financial support equivalent to 50,000NRs (approximately US$500) to vulnerable groups identified by NRA.
The main objective of Social Technical Assistance (STA) mobilization is to identify and support those household who are not able to build their house due to various reasons. Though, they have to give more priority to vulnerable households as the defined category of NRA. The STA are important team for vulnerable household because of the following reasons:
Okhaldhunga district has 8 Palikas (Total 75 ward in 8 Palikas), out of which 1 is urban municipality i.e. Siddicharan Municipality and other 7 are Rural Municipality named, Champadevi, Sunkoshi, Molung, Manebhanjyang, Khijidemba, Likhu and Chisankhugadhi. The total Number of Vulnerable Beneficiaries are 422 in Okhaldhunga. In Okhaldhunga, at present, 16 Social Mobilizers and 71 Masons have been working to support vulnerable beneficiaries.
NRA’s 131st executive committee meeting decided to provide additional top up of NRs. 50,000/- for the identified vulnerable beneficiaries of Earthquake Housing Reconstruction Project (EHRP) to further support the beneficiaries who are yet to complete the private housing reconstruction. According to the decision, Okhaldhunga district team had conducted survey of those identified 62 vulnerable beneficiaries, who have not yet completed their house till Asar end 2077, with the help of Social Mobilizers to identify eligible beneficiaries to provide the top up amount as well as STA support. Likewise, the survey team found that, out of 62 selected vulnerable households, 19 beneficiaries are of deceased case, 2 beneficiaries already received third instalment and completed the reconstruction process, 3 beneficiaries were not found entitled under the vulnerable category, and 4 beneficiaries already received additional support from other organizations through the local development partners supported program. Henceforth, out of total 62 only 34 vulnerable households were found to be eligible as per the District Facilitation Committee (DFC) meeting held on 15th Shrawan 2077 with the recommendation to obtain the additional financial assistance top up of NRs. 50,000. Among these 34 households, 31 households’ beneficiaries fall under the old age category and 3 household beneficiaries are under single women category. The further decision of DFC has been escalated to NRA office central office for further official process.
In the process of selecting the vulnerable household who are in need of STA support, DLPIU converses with the concerned local level representative to identify and recommend the name of vulnerable household. Accordingly, concerned local levels, ward unit recommends the beneficiaries name list who need support from masons and are unable to build their house on their own because they belong to vulnerable category. Thenceforth, concerned Palika organizes meeting to further procced with the appropriate actions on the basis of priorities, and liaise respectively to mobilize masons to support in building beneficiary’s houses.
Although the Local level and STA team has identified some beneficiaries’ household who are not listed as vulnerable in NRA list, however in reality they belong under the vulnerable criteria, so those beneficiaries are also considered as vulnerable in local level and further recommended to provide support to build their house with the help of masons. In addition, even some of them are Retrofitting beneficiaries (RTB), are required to build new house with the masons support and process for RCB through DLPIU-GMALI office, Okhaldhunga.
Total 132 vulnerable households are identified and recommended for the STA support by the Palikas’ decision in dated 25th Bhadra, 2077. Among these houses, 76 houses are completed with the help of Mobile Masons, and 10 houses are under construction till 15 Mangsir, 2077. The remaining houses are in line which will be built with the support of STA.
In conclusion, the STA support in Okhaldhunga seems really beneficial and progressive. Local level support, SMs initiation and DLPIUs coordination plays vital role to provide exemplary work in Okhaldhunga to support the earthquake beneficiaries in expediting the reconstruction efforts. Therefore, the envisioned STA program is fundamental to support the vulnerable households and as part of the socio-economic recovery program for the long term sustainability.
Under construction house of Man bahadur Thapa (Siddhicharan Municipality, ward no. 1)