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The Nepal earthquake in April 2015 and the subsequent, ongoing aftershocks were a life-changing event for many of the individuals affected, and the organisations involved in providing relief and recovery after the event. Of an approximate 850,000 houses that needed rebuilding, approximately 150,000 have been rebuilt and a further 450,000 are under reconstruction now. Similarly, there are 7553 educational institution buildings (schools) that require reconstruction, and approx. 68% have been rebuilt or are currently under construction. Whilst these numbers somewhat show the extent of the damage, and the slow pace of reconstruction, we must remember that these all refer to people – people still living in temporary shelters, people waiting for their schools and health centres to be rebuilt, people still struggling to rebuild their lives.

Before the earthquake, Umbrella was a small organisation focused on child protection and supporting the children under our care in residential care, next steps education and reintegration programmes. ONGD-FNEL were Umbrella’s first institutional donor, and we only started working together in 2014. After the earthquake, Umbrella supporters around the world donated money to help with the recovery effort, and we also entered working partnerships with GOAL and UNICEF to implement some of their earthquake response programmes. At the same time, our partners at ONGD-FNEL were very flexible with their funding and allowed us to change some activities to provide necessary support after the earthquake (for example providing desks, benches and other equipment to schools which had been damaged or destroyed). Although these activities were outside of our experience, Umbrella were proud and happy to be trusted to implement these important programmes, and provide assistance to vulnerable people affected by the earthquake. Umbrella have finished working with UNICEF and GOAL, however we continue to implement our own earthquake response programme, supporting beneficiaries in 2 districts whose families were assessed at being at increased risk of breakdown (e.g. child being sent away, parent going away for work), with the aim of keeping these families together. We have also been fortunate to have the opportunity to revise some ONGD-FNEL activities to make them more relevant for issues after the earthquake – for example, our street dramas and radio broadcasts had some content in them that was specific to the earthquake context.

One positive thing that has come from the earthquake is the changing attitudes towards mental health. Before the earthquake, taking to a counsellor or psychiatrist was very stigmatised in Nepal – people and their families would feel a lot of shame about having to do this. But now, due to the large numbers of people that accessed mental health services, and the increase in availability of mental health services, that stigma is starting to reduce and mental health is better understood and accepted in society.

Three years ago:

  • Nation was struck by threatening earthquake of magnitude of 7.8 Richter scale.
  • Over 8000 people lost lives and over 22000 got injured (National Planning Commission, 2015).
  • Almost 68000 houses and with 710 heritage sites got destroyed (National Planning Commission, 2015)
  • Hundreds of thousands lost their homes and countless faces lost their caretakers
  • Around 9000 schools along with 30000 classrooms got destroyed because of which millions of students had been deprived from immediate education (National Planning Commission, 2015).

Current situation:

  • 577676 out of 676849 houses got started to be reconstructed whereas 99173 houses are still being waiting to be started (National Planning Commission, 2015).
  • Similarly, many of the schools also have been reconstructed. It is stated that over 3500 schools have already been reconstructed. Government has ability to invest for around 2000 schools (Briggs, 2018).
  • However, around 2300 schools are still in dark future of re-construction (Briggs, 2018). As the pace of physical re-construction is sluggish and haphazard, the affected family living in temporary shelters, damaged buildings and heritages, rubbles of earthquake and many such leftovers have been a chaotic scenario of number of places.

Apart from the physical messes, the traumatic condition of a huge mass still living with the years back nightmares are the most painful scenarios we often get to witness. It may seem as if people have forgotten the pains and have returned to normal life but deep inside there is a painful struggle to rebuild wrecked life and lost hopes. Compulsion to live in the temporary tents, lack of access to nutritious and hygienic food, lack of access to education for the children of affected family, deprivation of proper physical, social and psychological development of children, psychological traumas among the members of affected family, increased vulnerability of children and adolescents to drug abuse and exploitation etc. are the most serious havoc that has not been figured out  in this long three years gap and expected to persistfor decades more if this painfully slow rehabilitation program does not takes the pace.

One of the sensitive area we spotted was, psychological trauma brought about by the catastrophe in the affected ones who lost their loved ones, shelter and other life supporting backups. To address this serious yet less addressed issue, SETU provided psychological support to the women in prison, provided advocacy support to them and provided self-development support to the women for rehabilitation. Along with women in prison, we provided immediate stationary and nutritional needs to the HIV infected children in Dhadhing, Nuwakot and Sindhupalchowk districts, and household utensils to their parents. 

As a part of welfare group of disadvantaged and affected community of nation, SETU Nepal launched immediate as well as long run programs for the displaced communities.

Immediate after the disaster, number of children were hindered from access to education and the stationary materials for their study. Increased drop out for the long was sure to borne out another trouble of exploitation and social abuse. As an immediate aid, we started services to approach the children of remote areas of the southern Lalitpur which was one of the most affected area of the valley. We provided uniforms and stationary materials to the children in schools along with IT supports to the schools.

In Nepal, the post-earthquake consequence was anticipated to prevail for years then after due to which we realized a need of a sustainable program too along with short term aid. So, SETU came up with the "Day Meal Program" to the children at primary level in which we sponsored for a day meal of children in school. As the access to nutritious meal and education was badly impeded by earthquake in affected areas, the main objective of the campaign was to fulfill the nutritional need of children and to captivate them in school. With the active participation of the community and school management, the program now can be easily handed over to them as they have become fully accountable and aware of its importance. Then after we are planning to start over with the same target in another affected area too.

Being concerned about the importance of education in order to uplift such community, we have recently started “One Rupee Campaign” for the child education movement. To address the disaster affected as well as other underprivileged community of rural Nepal through “One Rupee Campaign” we collect Rs.1 per member per day from the supporting families from our community through Khutrkke (Piggy Bank). Our hopes more strengthened with this success, we are planning to make this campaign participatory with the programs like School Day Meal, School Kitchen Gardening, Parenting Education, School Staff Training for transforming teaching methodology and more on. We have set our goal to reach maximum number of needy groups with our well-wisher's blessings and encouragement.. By spending every single dime for the child education, we expect to make the community self-accountable on long run. We would like to appreciate all the supporting families who have already been part of the campaign and appeal our other well-wishers too to spread out your hand to join that of ours to gift deprived children with the quality and life changing knowledge and enlighten.

References

Briggs, B. (2018, 04 25). Their World; A Brighter Future For Every Child. Retrieved from Their News: https://theirworld.org/news/nepal-rebuilds-schools-three-years-after-earthquake

National Planning Commission. (2015). Post Disaster Need Assessment; Executive Summary. Kathmandu: Government of Nepal.

On April 25, 2015, Nepal was ravaged by an earthquake which measured 7.8 Richter in the scale. This natural disaster took 9000 lives and injured 22,000 people and displaced millions of people. Public schools in rural area which had limited infrastructure, government buildings and many historic buildings disintegrated in rubble in the earthquake. Today, after three years later millions of people in the rural parts of hard hit areas are still in temporarily build houses despite of government effort and help from humanitarian aid.

Approximately NRs 706 billion (US$ 7 billion), which amounts to one third of the Gross Domestic Product was damaged due to earthquake. The government initially estimated NRs 700 billion would be required for the reconstruction. Now, with the recent commitment of the government to provide NRs 300,000 for rebuilding of houses instead on 200,000 has escalated the rebuilding cost to NRs 900 billion. Recently, a white paper was unveiled by Finance Minister Yubraj Khatiwada on the Current Economic Situation of Nepal on behalf of newly elected government on Friday the April 3rd 2018. The paper says there is a shortfall of Rs100 billion to complete reconstruction of private homes, portraying the harsh situation of rebuilding efforts. “There is the need for looking out for additional resource,” the white paper reads.

After the quake, government received the total pledge of $1.97billion in grant and $2.13 billion loan. So far according to the NRA data, the agreement reached with donors is for $1.55 billion grant and $1.51 billion loan. India pledged the largest aid commitment of $ 1 billion. It accounts the 75 percent in the line of credit but unfortunately mobilization of this pledge this is yet to commence. In addition, NRA has not initiated the agreement process with nine country that have pledge the support. This has hampered the resource mobilization process. The rebuilding process has also been painstaking with only over 1 billion been expended in reconstruction and rebuilding in past three years. Since the beginning, only 112,453 private houses have been rebuilt and currently 376,027 private homes are under construction. NRA targets to rebuild 400,000 in total by the end of this fiscal year. A total of 279,325 displaced families have received the second tranche of rebuilding grant; 65,504 have claimed the third and final tranche.

The primary focus of the government has been rebuilding the school buildings and many children are back to the school now. The government has rebuilt a third of the school buildings that were destroyed or partially damaged. Despite of the government preeminent focus 6000 government schools still needs to be rebuilt as around 90% of schools were damaged in worst hit areas. The success made by NGO is also commendable in rebuilding schools. As many as 1050 schools have been constructed, while 126 are in the process of construction with support from 180 non-profits (Billy, 2018). Additional schools will be constructed by the end of this year earthquake-affected districts of Dolakha, Sindupalchok, Kavrepalanchok, Rasuwa and Gorkha. The rebuilding process is not only focused in the numbers. They are also ensuring the constructed buildings meet all the building code of conduct and are earthquake resistant. For this the structures have been analyzed by engineers and taken into consideration the seismic load and building design during construction. In the meanwhile, the retrofitting of the existing school building is being carried out to ensure that students feel fearless when they go to school.

Several health institutions in 14 districts suffered severe damage which affected the delivery of health services during the disaster. To restore proper health services in the damaged health facilities 586 health centers has been constructed so far and 180 are under construction.

Rebuilding and reconstruction work have been in process but the efforts have been in the snail’s pace. One of the major achievement post earthquake has been promulgation of constitution which was followed by two tire elections within three years. The unprecedented victory of Nepal Communist Party (coalition of two major party CPM ULM and Nepal Maoist party) has given sheer hope in the rebuilding and reconstruction process. This shall ease the efficient mobilization of the resources creating an exponential impact on the reconstruction, rebuilding and restoration of national heritage site.

An article written by Niroj Shrestha from Shikharapur CLC