Oct 092016
 

Charikot before the town was devastated by the earthquake in 2015

Charikot before the town was devastated by the earthquake in 2015

Charikot, the capital of Dolakha, was devastated by the earthquake in 2015, but it’s coming back to life – also when it comes to the local tourism sector. Situated just five kilometres from the epicentre of the second massive tremor, most hotels and guesthouses in this scenic town collapsed and were turned into rubbles. Indeed, the massive destruction left many locals with little hope to rebuild. But tourism entrepreneurs have started to pick up the pieces and to again turn Charikot into a growing tourist destination. Continue reading »

Apr 042016
 

The NRA still moving at snail speed: most of the 600,000 households made homeless by the earthquake are now facing another monsoon in makeshift tin shelters.

The NRA still moving along at snail speed: most of the 600,000 households made homeless by the earthquake are now facing another monsoon in makeshift tin shelters.

The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) just moved on to “phase II” in rebuilding houses post-quake. The NRA has decided to release the first installment of the house reconstruction grant – that is, 50,000 rs. out of 200,000 rs. per household – but only in eight of the fourteen worst affected districts and merely in one VDC in each! Why not more!? Well, officially yet a survey on the number of earthquake victims has to be completed first. To the over 600,000 victims that are now facing a second monsoon in a tin shelter, hope must be at its lowest…

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Apr 042016
 

Without the cooperation of strong local leaders, getting things done at local kevel often becomes very difficult: village politician

Without the cooperation of strong local leaders, getting things done at local level often becomes very difficult: village politician

It’s an experience as old as Nepali government, dating back to the Rana regime and the royal rulers before them who often had to struggle to establish a reliable and continuous tax collection system at local level. Without the cooperation of strong local leaders who enjoy a good deal of control with the local people, getting things done in small towns and villages often becomes very difficult, for any government. Now, officials in Kathmandu – this time in the guises of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) – are staring in the face of this inconvenient truth too.

Says NRA chief, Sushil Gyawali, as he recapitulates the reasons why his newly formed reconstruction authority is making such slow progress in rebuilding houses and local infrastructure: “The biggest challenge is to mobilise people. The lack of elected representatives has made it more difficult for us to work at the grassroot level.” Without strong local leadership, it is more difficult to do planned work such as counting and registering the earthquake victims, issuing victim IDs, distributing grant money, and simply getting reconstruction off it’s so far heavy feet. Elected local leaders who typically command greater respect than outside officials do would make a huge difference to reconstruction, Gyawali explains. He adds: Continue reading »

Jan 132016
 

The NRA just allocated 290 million rs. to create seven local offices under it - is that a "good thing" or...?

The NRA just allocated 290 million rs. to create seven local offices under it – is that a “good thing” or…?

The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) which finally “took off” on December 26 after a six months delay has now allocated some of the USD 4,4 billion supposed to be spent as quickly as possible on rebuilding houses and public infrastructure. So, what’s the allocation going to be spent on – so far an amount of 290 million rupees? Well, in one word, “administration”: the NRA is setting up seven local offices which it needs to plan and implement the reconstruction. Continue reading »

Jan 122016
 

"Many students are down with the cold", says local principal, Ramji Shrestha, at typical TLC built of tin sheets in Ramechap.

“Many students are down with the cold”, says local principal, Ramji Shrestha, working at typical TLC (picture) built of tin sheets in Ramechap.

Students going to school in Temporary Learning Centers (TLCs) – built after the earthquake – have started to fall ill in worrying numbers. Most TLCs are built of tin sheets without any insulation, so wind and humid cold air easily get inside. As winter bites, going to school has become a health hazard! In Ramechap, scores of children are in hospital with the cold; in Bhaktapur the situation is the same. The need for reconstruction is acute – but work is slow! Continue reading »

Jan 112016
 

"I keep my baby wrapped around my back most of the time, so that she don’t get cold." Pisang Lama, Ramechap

“I keep my baby wrapped around my back most of the time, so that she don’t get cold.” Pisang Lama, Ramechap

Ramechap district is freezing and locals are struggling to keep warm as temperatures are dropping below zero. Pisang Lama, 31, is just one of thousands living in temporary shelters completely unfit for winter. Like in most of the earthquake affected districts, also in this area south-east of Kathmandu the ruins of the old mud and stone houses have been replaced with tin shelters. There’s no insulation and no real protection from the elements. Lama explains: Continue reading »

Jan 112016
 

Post-quake, many students are left to study in tin shelters or under tarpaulins

Post-quake, many students are left to study in tin shelters or under tarpaulins

Will this year’s SLC students have a better chance than, say, last year’s class? Well, it was always hard to get through the “Iron Gate”: 10th graders have had to struggle a lot – the pass rate is barely 35 percent – and this year it’s not likely to get better. In the districts hardest hit by the earthquake, thousands of schools still lie in ruins – many students are left to study in tin shelters or under tarpaulins – and in the Terai, bandhs and unrest over the constitution have locked down many schools for months on end! Continue reading »

Dec 292015
 

Waiting for the NRA: woman in front of a typical shelter (Kavre)

Waiting for the NRA: woman in front of a typical shelter (Kavre)

Out in the districts hit by the earthquake in April, locals have long-since started to build temporary shelters. How temporary – or permanent – those shelters are going to be is an open question. The answer, though, lies in no small part with the government and it’s National Reconstruction Authority (NRA). The government has already released 15,000 rs. (around USD 200) to every household whose home was destroyed – but they have pledged a lot more. Indeed, USD 4,4 billion are in the pipeline for reconstruction! However, the NRA, tasked with distributing all this money, has not really started working yet. Continue reading »

Sep 212015
 

Life under a tin roof is not easy. But by September, villagers in Palanchok - like in so many other villages - were starting to get organised. Watch the video to see how.

Villagers in Palanchok, Kavre, were hoping for the best. A Japanese-funded NGO pledging in May to rebuild 60 to 65 houses, however, did not return. It did clear some rubble with a dozer, following the villagers’ hard work of manually demolishing their house ruins. But after that no NGO showed up. By September, everybody was busy setting up temporary tin shelters instead. Watch how a family is getting back into some type of everyday rythm in the video opposite – it’s life under a tin roof, so common in thousands of villages at this time.

Watch the same family working hard and full of hope here, in May when the NGO had arrived. Continue reading »