Single women unable to build temporary sheltersMany have not registered for reconstruction aid. Even those who lack the physical and human resources to build a temporary shelter.
Dammar Kumari Khatri has been living under a tarpaulin tent ever since the November 3 earthquake destroyed her house. Khatri, 63, is a native of Halchaur in Nalgad Municipality-8, Jajarkot, the district most affected by the magnitude 6.4 earthquake. She is suffering from asthma and has been living alone after her husband died 13 years ago. Her two married children live elsewhere with their own families. Until the earthquake left her homeless, Khatri did not feel the disadvantages of living alone, she says. But ever since she was displaced, the need for a man in the house and of able-bodied family members has deepened.
“I have not been able to rebuild a temporary shelter like the rest of the displaced people. I have been living under a tent and my asthma is getting worse,” she said. “When I heard people were receiving grants to build temporary shelters I went to the ward office but they told me I didn’t qualify for the grant because my name was missing from the list of beneficiaries.”
Khatri says she was not aware that she had to register her name to qualify for the grant since the information did not reach her. “No one informed me that the authorities came to collect names of the displaced. I was left out because of my ignorance,” she said. “There are several single women like me who have been left out of the beneficiary list because we did not receive the information on time.”
Single women in the displaced camps in Jajarkot with no support from family members have either not registered for the reconstruction aid or even if they have, they do not have the physical resources to build a temporary shelter for themselves.
Durga Kumari Singh from Nalgad-9 is a 75-year-old single woman who has also been living under a tarpaulin tent since the earthquake. Although the ward chair has guaranteed her the first tranche of the grant to start building a shelter, she is unsure of her capability to do so.
“The ward chair has assured me that I will get Rs25,000 to start the construction of my temporary shelter. But I am in a dilemma about whether I will be able to build it on my own. Hiring labourers to build it for me is going to cost more money and since everybody is busy building their own shelters, there is no one here to help me,” she said. “My neighbours who have several family members have already moved into new shelters but I haven’t even been able to go to the ward office to receive my money. I am waiting for someone to take me there.”
Lakshmi Singh, a 40-year-old woman from Gharganga in Nalgad-9, moved back into her severely damaged house with her son and her elderly mother-in-law. Her husband is in prison for possession of opium leaving Laxmi to take care of the family. Even though she has received her first tranche of the aid, she has not been able to start the construction.
“I cannot build the house alone. I can’t even hire anyone to help because everyone is busy building their own shelters,” said Laxmi. “We moved into the house despite the risks because the cold was affecting my mother-in-law’s health. People with men in their families have already moved into their new shelters but I haven’t even begun building ours.”
Ram Prasad Khatri, a local of Halchaur in Nalgad-8, said that single women, families with only women, children, and senior citizens have not yet been able to build temporary shelters in the absence of helping hands.
“There are 10 to 12 single women in my village and none of them has started building their temporary shelters although most of them have received the first instalment of the reconstruction aid,” Ram Prasad said. “Everyone else is busy trying to finish the construction and have their families move into the new shelters.”
According to Bhabindra Bahadur Singh, ward chair of Nalgad-9, there are three single women in Ward 9. Two of them have received the first tranche of the reconstruction aid while one of them is waiting for her paperwork to be cleared. “There are 30 to 35 families with only female members. They all have received the grant but none of them have been able to start the construction of their shelters,” he said. “All the single women and families with no men are either living under tarpaulin tents or in the damaged houses, risking their lives.”
“There is a severe shortage of manpower in the earthquake-affected villages,” said Bhabindra.
According to the National Census 2021, there are 712 single women in 13 wards of Nalgad Municipality. In Jajarkot, there are 3,949 single women. Similarly, there are 4,079 single women in Rukum West.
Harishchandra Sharma, administrative officer of the District Administration Office, Jajarkot, said that the security personnel of all three levels have given priority to the elderly, single women, and helpless families. “Although I have heard news that some organisations have helped single women, there is no exact data on how many of them received help,” said Sharma.
According to the District Administration Office, Jajarkot, the total number of beneficiaries affected by the earthquake in Jajarkot has reached 42,524, and out of them, 28,682 beneficiaries have been listed for the grant money to build temporary housing. So far, 10,341 temporary shelters have been constructed.
According to the District Disaster Management Committee, Jajarkot, Rs1.34 billion has been disbursed to the local units while the local units have distributed Rs311.3 million to the earthquake victims in the first instalment. Out of 28,682 beneficiaries on the grant list, 27,735 have received the funds.
The number of beneficiaries in Rukum West has reached 29,406 for temporary shelter; so far, 16,346 shelters have been constructed, and 7,497 shelters are under construction, according to the District Administration Office, Rukum West.
“Efforts are being made to accelerate the work of completing the construction of temporary shelters for the remaining registered beneficiaries,” said Prabesh Baduwal, assistant chief district officer of Rukum West.
According to the district administration offices in Jajarkot and Rukum West, the number of beneficiaries could increase further because the security personnel are still collecting data on the beneficiaries.