Monday, June 08, 2015

Nepal's struggle to raise quake reconstruction funds

Nepal estimated that it suffered damage worth $10 billion in the aftermath of April's 7.8-magnitude earthquake but authorities are still struggling to raise the funds needed to provide shelter for the half a million who remain homeless. 

With the monsoon rains only weeks away, Nepal is organizing a donor conference in the capital Kathmandu for later this month to allay donor fears that funding will be wasted through corruption and poor governance. 

“Nepal is safe and sound and ready to host an international conference. We hope the conference would help us create confidence in the country. We want to send a message to the outside world that life is back to normal,” Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat told a gathering of donors and representatives of foreign missions on June 1.

After the earthquake, Nepal's government expected foreign aid and donations to pour into the devastated country, setting up the Prime Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund to attract funds for post-quake recovery efforts. Foreign aid, however, has been slow to come by with just over $75 million pledged so far.

“It’s time to generate hope and inculcate self confidence and revive the economy. Now time has come to rebuild; we will build back better and Nepal is ready to reconstruct,” Mahat said, adding that the delegates will be taken on a trip to villages ravaged by the quake. “In addition to the reconstruction, we need more resources to revive the economy.”

The government plans to raise $2 billion through the newly formed National Reconstruction Fund but has so far collected only $200 million from its own coffers.

By contrast, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs raised $124 million against its own $422-million goal, according to an update released last Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, Nepali government officials are working on a report evaluating the country's post-disaster needs to present to the donors during the conference. The report would assess the damage and spell out recovery strategies including funding for rehabilitation, restoration of livelihoods, economy and services and reconstruction of infrastructure.

More than 1,200 government officials and engineers have been mobilized to over 500 villages of 34 districts in central and eastern Nepal, according to Suresh Adhikari, spokesperson of Ministry of General Administration.

The report, which is being prepared by each ministry in consultation with experts from donor agencies, would only provide preliminary estimates of the damage, according to Govinda Nepal, a member of the National Planning Commission....

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