Generous aid pledges delight Nepal

- ANIL GIRI, Kathmandu
Generous aid pledges delight Nepal

Jun 25, 2015-

In a major boost to Nepal’s reconstruction and recovery efforts post April 25 Great Earthquake, development partners and donor community have pledged $4.4 billion in aid during the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction-2015.

This has come as a huge respite for reconstruction and recovery bid and brought cheers especially to the ruling Nepali Congress and CPN-UML. “I take it as a grand success. The outcome was more than what we had expected,” said Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat.

The event drew around 300 representatives, including ministers, from 56 countries and donor agencies, who generously pledged support for reconstruction after the devastating quake and its aftershocks. More than 8,800 people were killed in the disaster and over a million displaced.  

The Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) estimates that $6.7 billion will be needed for reconstruction. Ministers and senior government officials had hoped to receive pledges of around $3 billion at the conference.

But challenges remain. Early stage of relief was dogged by issues related to transparency, management of resources and government efficiency. In private meetings, donors expressed lack of confidence in Nepal’s capacity to manage the funds long term and volatile political situation. During the inaugural session of the conference on Thursday, Indian Minister for External Affairs Sushma Swaraj pointed out some of those challenges.

“Efficient and transparent utilisation of funds, to achieve the PDNA goals, will not be easy. It will require a robust institutional mechanism and the tireless dedication of an empowered team of officials,” she said.

Her concerns were shared by other members from the donor community and development partners.

Representatives from Denmark, Switzerland and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) urged for accountability, transparency and efficient mobilisation of funds along with holding elections of the local bodies.   

“The message from both within and outside the country is loud and clear. And we are committed to ensure that resources will be mobilised efficiently and transparently,” said Chief Secretary Leela Mani Paudyal.

At the conference, India has made the largest aid pledge totalling Rs100 billion ($1 billion) for Nepal’s post-earthquake reconstruction, with Indian Minister Swaraj announcing that a quarter of the amount will be extended as grant.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi meanwhile promised RMB 4.7 billion ($480 million) in the form of grant and loan. Besides a concessional loan from Silk Road Fund for Nepal’s reconstruction bid, China has also offered training opportunities for 1,500 Nepalis over the next year.

Similarly, the UN has raised $153 million, or 36 percent of the total $422-million humanitarian appeal.

The world body and its specialised agencies had directly provided goods and equipment worth $200 million to the Government of Nepal in direct support to post-earthquake relief.

The government had set up Reconstruction Fund worth $2 billion, with an initial contribution of Rs 20 billion ($200 million) and sought the remaining amount from the international community.

An additional Rs 6 billion has been collected in the Prime Minister Disaster’s Relief Fund.  

Any funding shortfall will be made up through internal debt and during the second donor conference to be held in Japan in September.

China to provide every help: Wang

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has reaffirmed China’s readiness to provide “every sort of support to Nepal” for post-quake reconstruction.

“The support will be provided on the basis of bilateral interest and discussion, and after determining the areas of cooperation and priorities,” Foreign Minister Wang told media persons after meeting some of the earthquake-survivors taking refuge at Tundikhel on Thursday.

The Chinese government had provided tents and tarpaulins to shelter the displaced people. Stating that Nepal and China have brotherly relations, Wang said the northern neighbour would not interfere in Nepal’s internal affairs. Wang said a high-level Chinese team would visit Nepal shortly to further discuss aid utilisation. (PR)

Priorites of major donors

- India: Housing and public buildings, heritage sites, infrastructure development--roads, transport and power, agriculture, education, health and hospitals; and disaster risk mitigation

- China: Public facilities and unconditional grants, loans for reconstruction projects, encouragement for Chinese enterprises and non-governmental groups to participate in Nepal’s economic reconstruction, helping train professional and skilled personnel, and helping restore damaged cultural heritage

- US: Energy and transport sectors, areas of critical to sustainable economic growth, strengthening agricultural systems, curbing human trafficking, building institutions that can respond effectively to disasters

- Japan: Schools, housing and community infrastructure including reinforcements of public facilities such as local government buildings and hospitals, and infrastructure such as roads and bridges against quake

- World Bank: Housing construction in poor rural areas and budgetary support

- ADB: Restoring schools, roads, public buildings; rural finance

- UK: Focus on rebuilding vital infrastructure, including hospitals; and supporting women and vulnerable groups

- EU: Support to fiscal budget, facilitating disbursement and monitoring of international capital expenditure, shelter, livelihoods, health and logistics

 

Published: 26-06-2015 07:39

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