In April and May of this year, Nepal suffered the worst natural disaster in the country’s history when huge twin earthquakes destroyed many buildings, homes and roadways. The quakes killed almost 9,000 people and left approximately three million survivors with nowhere to live – except in plastic tents – and desperately needing food, water, shelter and medical care.
Despite the dire needs of its people, the Nepalese government has yet to use the $4.1 billion it received from foreign countries and relief agencies. The government has not provided relief to the citizens of Nepal and no efforts have been made to clean up the debris strewn about or to tear down dangerous remains of buildings – let alone rebuild.
Chief executive officer of the recently created National Reconstruction Authority, Govind Raj Pokharel, stated that the Nepalese government was unlikely to start using the money until late fall because of continued delays in plan approvals. There is also concerns regarding starting construction during the monsoon season. Pokharel acknowledges the delays and that, “The government’s response has been slow. I accept that.”
Nepal has been criticized for both its failure to prepare for the quakes and with its relief efforts following the quakes. Experts predicted that earthquakes were imminent, but the government did not respond accordingly. Moreover, four months after the quakes, the mess is everywhere, and citizens are living in squalor getting eaten by bugs.
Pokharel points out that disputes among ministers has caused the government’s failure to utilize the funds. The ministers have yet to sign off on rebuilding and aid distribution plans. Another major problem is that the Nepalese government is attempting to pass a new constitution aimed at creating a new political system and dividing the country into different, new regions. These decisions have led to severe clashes between officials. The government argues that the new constitution will help the reconstruction of the country by creating a more stable nation.
However, the government should have focused first on the needs of its people rather than trying to create a new constitution. Pokharel stated that, “We would have liked it if they concentrated on the reconstruction first. That would have been better. We have lost time and now we need to catch up.”