Gaps in Nepal’s political structure are making its recovery from the two major earthquakes a year ago a ‘difficult and drawn out’ process, according to the head of the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Robert Glasser used the anniversary of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake to call for greater investment in resilient infrastructure to ensure future earthquakes have a lower death toll.
The earthquake struck on April 25 last year. Just over two weeks later, a second 7.3 magnitude quake hit causing further devastation. More than 9,000 people were killed and almost three million people were displaced.
Glasser said: “The Nepal Earthquake was long forecast and worse could happen in the future. As the rebuilding effort is now set to get underway in earnest, every support must be extended to the three million or more people who lost their homes a year ago so they build back better to earthquake-resistant standards.
“Building back better cannot be done overnight. Nepal is a textbook example of how difficult and long drawn out the process can become when risk governance is complicated by the overall political context, including major gaps at the level of local government. The socio-economic impact of this disaster is enormous and it will have a long-term impact on the country’s development and the welfare of its people.
“UN member States have recognised that reducing earthquake risk is a priority given that about 750,000 people have died in earthquakes and tsunamis over the last 20 years. Nepal and recent earthquakes in Ecuador and Japan are a reminder of the urgent need to invest in disaster resilient infrastructure as agreed in the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. A major part of urban resilience is ensuring compliance with building codes and planning laws.”
There have been calls to speed up the recovery process. In March, Asian Development Bank vice present Wencai Zhang met with Nepal’s Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli to discuss its economic recovery.
Zhang said at the time: “There is an urgent need to accelerate reconstruction and implementation of development programs to prevent a further slowdown in growth and to ensure rapid recovery.”
He added: “To expedite unhindered implementation of reconstruction works, the National Reconstruction Authority needs to release sufficient budget immediately, enforce fast-track decision making, and adopt building-back-better principles and innovative approaches for time and cost-efficiency.”
The Department for International Development said it has provided more than £170M in assistance to Nepal over the last two years and its long term support for the recovery includes rubble clearance and the restoration of infrastructure such as health services and police stations. It set up an aid mission which included consultants from Turner & Townsend and Ramboll.
Charities such as RedR deployed engineers on site and it will shortly producing a report explaining how it sees the recovery situation one year on.