Still homeless

- MAHESHWOR RIJAL

Sep 14, 2017-The mega earthquake of two and a half years ago hit the Sindhupalchok district particularly hard. Earthquake survivors have been living a miserable life as they don’t have safe and secure houses. Even though the reconstruction of houses destroyed by the disaster should have been the number one priority, rebuilding has been moving at the pace of a tortoise. Earthquake survivors are struggling to make permanent shelters. How can it be possible to think about a prosperous life in the absence of safe and strong houses?

Let’s take a look at the progress of recovery and reconstruction. According to the Housing Recovery and Reconstruction Platform, 75,304 beneficiaries in Sindhupalchok have enrolled in the Earthquake Housing Reconstruction Programme. Among them, 94 percent have received the first tranche of the housing grant amounting to Rs50,000. However, only 6,550 beneficiaries have received the second tranche, and a mere 169 have received the third tranche. This shows sadly the slow pace of reconstruction of homes in Sindhupalchok, and the most vulnerable ones have been hit the hardest.

Shelter is a basic right of the people. Who is responsible for ensuring this basic right? The constitution of Nepal guarantees the basic right of shelter to every citizen, but what a shame it is that people have been forced to live in temporary shelters that lack safety and security. This visible reality shows that the guarantee of social security as provided by our constitution is questionable. “Every person shall have the right to live with dignity.” Where is the dignity when people are obliged to live in such unsafe places in pain and suffering every day? I would not be wrong to say that it is the government’s responsibility to ensure safe and secure houses, therefore, we need to think about this issue seriously. 

Many youths are flying off to the Gulf with the hope of earning enough money to rebuild their houses. So, there is a shortage of manpower in the community. More specifically, unavailability of masons, construction materials, transportation and financial resources is the major problem being faced by the victims. I have seen that there is strong apathy among National Reconstruction Authority engineers to provide technical support in terms of monitoring and supervision. It is a serious matter that beneficiaries who have already laid the foundation have not got the second and third tranches of their grants because the construction has not been certified and supervised by its technicians. Those who have become eligible to get the second instalment should get the money without delay. 

I urge the government and humanitarian aid agencies to please speed up the reconstruction process. Two and 

a half years have passed since the earthquake, and people are still 

living in temporary shelters without safety and security. Let’s make every village a model village. The government should mobilise newly elected local bodies for post-earthquake recovery and reconstruction.

Published: 14-09-2017 08:20

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