Reconstruction mattersNRA’s claim that reconstruction will be completed in the next six-months is dubious
According to the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), 79,514 private homes have been rebuilt and 194,196 homes are under construction. This encouraging progress, the NRA claims, is indicative of the completion of 40 percent of the reconstruction work. But one only has to look at a few other figures to realise that this claim of progress is somewhat of an overstatement.
A total of 79,514 homes may have been rebuilt, but this translates to only 11 percent of the 676,849 households that were found eligible for housing reconstruction aid and signed an aid agreement with the NRA. According to the agreement, the aid is being issued in three tranches of Rs50,000, Rs150,000, and Rs100,000. And a report made public by the NRA on Wednesday has revealed that while 98 percent and 17 percent of the households have received the first and second instalments of the aid respectively, only 4 percent have applied for the third and final batch of aid.
Given that a mere 4 percent of households have actually applied for the final tranche, it would not be much of a stretch to assume that reconstructions efforts are not anywhere close to completion. And it seems the NRA is deliberately choosing to be oblivious to this sluggish progress, as it has optimistically stated that the reconstruction of private homes in most places will be completed in the next six months. A decidedly tall order, if the snail-paced recovery efforts over the past two years, are anything to go by.
To be sure, the NRA has had a slew of issues to deal with, not least in regards to the shortage of reconstruction materials as a result of the unofficial border blockade, the absence of a central coordinating body, frequent changes in its leadership, and the politicisation of reconstruction work with the Reconstruction Bill hanging in Parliament. And now, with the increasing likeliness of a shortage of Rs 3billion worth of funds, the post-earthquake reconstruction body has another problem to contend with.
The NRA has claimed that it is now planning to organise a donors’ conference in the next fiscal year to collect funds. But this process will take time. And how much longer can the earthquake victims who are still bedding down in temporary shelters can be asked to wait?
Nepal requires critical investments in resilient recovery as soon as possible. This fact has already been acknowledged by the World Bank, who just this month approved an additional credit of $300 million to supplement a previous $200 million credit. But the clock is ticking and further funds are required. We can only hope that the NRA’s appeal to donors will bear fruit. And we also hope that a new government with a stable leadership will now prioritise reconstruction efforts in the national agenda and give it due precedence.