While a reconstruction period was launched by the government in January, bureaucratic hurdles are slowing the work of NGOs. Swiss Solidarity wishes to encourage the authorities to exercise due diligence and support the efforts of its partners in rebuilding homes, schools and health centres.
By the government of Nepal’s own admission, reconstruction after the earthquake that struck the country on April 25, 2015, is taking too long. In a speech given in late March before the country’s national reconstruction authority, Prime Minister Sharma Oli expressed his dissatisfaction with the snail’s pace of the process launched in January under his direction. “Delays in the reconstruction campaign, for whatever reason, can no longer be tolerated,” he said, promising to “pull out all the stops” for the cause.
Like many international relief organisations, Swiss Solidarity’s partners have had trouble obtaining building permits, whether for single-family homes or public buildings such as schools and health centres.
“These administrative hold-ups have arisen after many months of fuel rationing which paralysed the country and posed a serious challenge at the start of the reconstruction phase,” explained David Dandrès, project officer at Swiss Solidarity. “It is now time for the authorities to commit and work hand in hand with national and international organisations so that the affected towns and villages may be rebuilt. The situation is urgent, as the work must begin before the monsoon season.”
Despite a challenging situation, the first family dwellings have started being rebuilt for vulnerable families in Sindhupalchowk District. These buildings, which meet earthquake-resistance standards, have served as model homes for training sessions aimed at several dozen qualified workers and labourers who will then be hired by other families in the area.
To date, five Swiss organisations have launched reconstruction projects in the country thanks to funds provided by Swiss Solidarity, and other organisations have plans to begin in the coming months.
In all, 1500 family homes will be rebuilt by Helvetas, Solidar and the Swiss Red Cross. For its part, Caritas has begun rebuilding 34 public schools, while Terre des hommes – Child relief is working on seven health centres.
Moreover, Swiss Solidarity’s partner organisations are also coordinating child protection activities, training health staff, and providing financial support for vulnerable families through economic recovery and agricultural production initiatives. Activities to rehabilitate drinking water and irrigation systems are also underway.
Given the strong ties between small Swiss associations and Nepalese villagers, especially in remote and high-altitude areas, Swiss Solidarity, in an exceptional move, has decided to support some of these associations in their aid and reconstruction efforts.
As a reminder, after the earthquake, 206,000 people received emergency equipment from Swiss Solidarity’s partner NGOs, including corrugated tin, tarpaulins, tents, drinking water, food and blankets. Eleven thousand injured people were treated and temporary health centres were hastily erected and stocked with supplies. Six thousand children benefited from temporary schools and psychological support. Furthermore, 25,000 people living at or above 1,500 metres received equipment to help them survive winter.
The violent tremor that shook Nepal on April 25 and the powerful aftershock that struck on May 12, 2015, destroyed over half a million homes and thousands of schools and health centres. This affected the lives of nearly eight million Nepalese, representing a quarter of the country’s population.