Slow Flight: Saimon Tamakhu, 13, whose house was damaged by the earthquake in Bhaktapur, flies a kite by its ruins. Families in the Valley have not yet received reconstruction grants.
Most of the 2 million earthquake survivors who lost their homes are still waiting for government grants to rebuild, but those who have received the first tranche of cash are spending it on Dasain shopping.
Most say the grant, which has been increased to Rs 300,000, will not be enough to restore their homes anyway, so they are using the first installment of Rs 50,000 to repay debt and for household expenses.
They are also tired of waiting for politicians in Kathmandu to get their act together. There may be even more delays because Prime Minister Dahal is expected to replace the head of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), Sushil Gyewali, with a party apparatchik. Gyewali himself was a political appointee of Prime Minister Oli, and replaced Govind Raj Pokharel, who was a Congress candidate.
In trying to keep rivals away from controlling the NRA’s grant distribution and to prevent them from reaping credit for rehabilitation, political parties have cancelled each other out and left survivors with little and late assistance.
We asked Gyewali if he was losing his job, to which he replied: “Really? No one has told me anything about that. In fact, the Prime Minister has praised my work.”
With the bigger grants, the total amount needed for reconstruction of homes has shot up to Rs 938 billion, more than double of what was pledged by donors last year. For the moment there is only Rs 343 billion in the kitty for reconstruction because there is a shortfall in what the biggest donors India and China pledged.
Former Finance Minister Ram Saran Mahat, who conducted the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction two months after the earthquake, says the biggest challenge is to spend the money quickly and efficiently.
“The problem is not the lack of money, but our inability to use it is,” he said, “further donor support will be forthcoming only if we can prove that we are using the fund properly.”
Waiting for Rs 200,000, ShankarDahal
Authority to rebuild, Editorial