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

Three years ago, on 25th April, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake shook the nation. It was the worst strike in more than 80 years' time that left thousands injured and homeless. Loss of life was devastating, over 8,900 lives were lost, and 22,000 people injured. 2.8 million people needed humanitarian assistance. More than 602,257 houses were destroyed and 185,099 were damaged. The terrible thing was people suffered around 400 aftershocks that caused further destruction and hardship for those who had survived the initial disaster. 

It's impossible to put into words the loss that Nepal experienced. According to the Ministry of Education, a total of 32,145 classrooms were destroyed and 15,352 damaged directly affecting more than a million students. This has increased the chances of child/forced labour and young boys and girls being trapped into human trafficking nets. Over time, 134 international Search And Rescue (SAR) teams from 34 countries were mobilized for the support in the affected areas including internationals and nationals development organizations.  After the disaster, women and children from the 14 worst affected districts became the most vulnerable and thus were at high risk of internal and cross-border trafficking, abuse and exploitation. So, there was a need to increase services to youth and children through strengthening social services to prevent and respond to child and youth protection issues.

Nepal is now passing through a critical time and pushed off behind 50 years from its development. As the nation has gone through radical political transformations; several new environmental challenges have been added. many settlements, several public properties including schools were damaged and broken.  This left us to understand a deep environmental calamity was waiting. This coupled with the lack of consideration of environmental concerns, have worsened the challenges in countries. However, the country is struggling to recover the losses through several strategies and approaches for reconstruction and rehabilitation though the outcomes are beneath the expectation due to political, social, geographical hindrances.

Education is one of the strongest keys to bring the normalcy in the community after occurrence of any forms of disaster. Therefore, specific interventions related with education support in the community could be an appropriate entry point for program designing and building trustful relationships, identifying target beneficiaries, understanding the local political and social dynamics and rapport building with local people and authorities to respond to the disaster.    

According to the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), out of the 996,582 households surveyed, 767,705 are eligible for the government's Private Housing Grant. As of today, 388,642 are under construction in the 14 most affected districts and 113,793 have already completed construction.

Although, local government has tirelessly activated and prioritized community based programme to tap vulnerable groups with support from I/NGOs, the results are not satisfactory. Therefore, activities to prevent and protect children and adolescents from abuse, neglect, and exploitation are proposed as a priority action together with other aspects of reconstruction and recovery.  

Efforts done by Right4Children to get children back into education

Various reports suggested that almost one million children were out of school in the immediate aftermath. However, most of the children were learning in the Temporary Learning Centers (TLCs), but the major concerns following the earthquake was, if they do not return to the school soon, they would potentially become victims of child marriage, trafficking and child labour.

Right4children has been working at Marpak VDC of Dhading District, one of the most affected districts, where 90% of schools were destroyed during the earthquake. R4C is supporting to rebuild the schools to get children back to normal school life.  Five community schools are in the phase to complete where approximate 1100 children per year will be able to continue their education in a safe and child friendly environment which will address the education and protection needs of children.

It has been exactly three years now that the earthquake had hit the country and displaced living on horns of dilemma. Today, people have already initiated their efforts for recovery and finding ways to rebuild their lives. They have taken these difficulties as opportunities to become resilient and shape their vision of a progressive yet eco-sensitive Nepal. Meanwhile, expectation towards the locally elected government has been increased to empower people to rebuild the lives.

My second month here in Nepal has already come to an end. It was a rather calm month as I spent it entirely in the children’s home in Sankhu. I really like it here, it’s an awesome place and the children are very welcoming and funny. They call me “Uncle Tom” and ask often where Jerry is, in reference to the even in Nepal famous cartoon “Tom & Jerry”. The biggest part of my time here I spent helping out in the kitchen. Cooking for around 100 children is no easy task furthermore as there are only 2 to 3 people working in the kitchen. But during the day there are always moments when there’s no work in the kitchen and I can play with the children. They love to play football, cricket and table-tennis. Also with other volunteers, we organized a treasure hunt for the children, painted a basketball court and took them for a walk to a temple where we could watch a lot of monkeys.

The personnel working here are super friendly and helpful, they are teaching me some Nepali and often make some tea for the volunteers.

I already look forward to the next month.

Best wishes from Nepal

Tom Hoffmann

Hi my name is Tom Hoffmann. Right now thanks to ONGD-FNEL, I’m a volunteer in Nepal for the NGO “Prisoner Assistance Nepal”. I have been here for now almost a month during which, thanks to Indira Ranamagar the founder of PA Nepal, I have already seen a lot of Nepal. With three other volunteers from France we made a 5-day-trip to the south-east of Nepal. There we visited many different projects of PA Nepal including the “ Boys Jungle Home” in Jhapa. In an other village we distributed cookies, blankets and Mützen.