Nepal strives to leave no one behind in earthquake reconstruction

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An old woman with her home owner card in front of her house.
Man Kumari Parajuli with her homeowner agreement card. Photo: Gajendra Shrestha/World Bank Nepal

Ninety-two-year-old Man Kumari Parajuli flashes an infectious smile while she shows me her homeowner agreement card. 

Her old dwelling located in Namobuddha municipality in Nepal’s central hills was damaged by the 2015 earthquake. A group of mobile masons is busy building a new house for her, in the adjacent courtyard. “I cannot wait to move into the new house,” she says with an apparent glimmer of hope in her eyes.

Padam Bahadur Kami’s landless family is also getting their house built by the same construction crew while more than a hundred kilometers away from Namobuddha, another crew is building a house for elderly Dipa Bahadur Kunwar and his wife in Nuwakot.  

Six years on, Nepal’s post-earthquake housing reconstruction is nearly complete. 

Ninety-two percent of the targeted population is on track to move in refurbished and resilient houses.  In the final reconstruction stretch, the teams mobilized by Nepal Reconstruction Authority (NRA) under the World Bank-supported Nepal Earthquake Housing Reconstruction Project (EHRP) are ensuring that all vulnerable residents in earthquake-affected areas get a roof over their heads.

Single women, elderlies above 75, minors with no guardian, and persons with disabilities fall into the most vulnerable category and can receive additional cash grants for housing.

NRA has coordinated with the local governments to ensure that no eligible beneficiary is left behind. 

In the final reconstruction stretch, the teams mobilized by Nepal Reconstruction Authority (NRA) are ensuring that all vulnerable residents in earthquake-affected areas get a roof over their heads.

“We have been working diligently to identify and support the most vulnerable ones in our ward. It is often challenging to manage the expectations and positively discriminate those in need”, says Amrita Parajuli Adhikari, a local people’s representative coordinating support for Man Kumari and Padam Bahadur, both of whom were missed-out in NRA’s initial list of vulnerable beneficiaries.

An old man sits upon stones in a construction site
Dipa Bahadur Kunwar in the construction site of his house. Photo: Gajendra Shrestha

Socio-technical assistance: Key to owner-driven reconstruction

An owner-driven approach puts the homeowners at the heart of the reconstruction, who take key decisions about the rebuilding. To make sure that the decisions made are well-informed by the resilience and safety protocols, socio-technical assistance (STA) teams comprised of field engineers, social mobilizers, and mobile masons go door to door providing crucial information to the homeowners on building resilient and safer houses.

NRA recruited, deployed, and mobilized 755 mobile masons and 246 social mobilizers in early 2020 to expand socio-technical assistance and spur reconstruction efforts.

While socio-technical assistance is a critical part of the overall reconstruction from the beginning, it is particularly significant in providing tailored support to those who could not start or finish rebuilding their homes because of various reasons including old age, disability, or illness. In this regard, NRA recruited, deployed, and mobilized 755 mobile masons and 246 social mobilizers in early 2020 to expand socio-technical assistance and spur reconstruction efforts.

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Reconstruction continues amid the pandemic

Already running its fifth year, reconstruction activities have continued unabated during the COVID-19 pandemic. For many earthquake-affected people, access to safe and resilient houses was key to shelter themselves from the virus. To that end, NRA proactively issued COVID-19 safety protocols for mobile masons and social mobilizers to keep up the pace of reconstruction.

Since most social mobilizers and mobile masons are recruited locally, they continued working despite the nationwide lockdown. 

While mobile masons physically participate in the reconstruction, the local governments facilitate procurement of construction material on credit, and communities provide in-kind and labor support.

NRA proactively issued COVID-19 safety protocols for mobile masons and social mobilizers to keep up the pace of reconstruction.

Social mobilizers act as the bridge connecting these entities—they mobilize the technical teams and communities and coordinate with local governments, civil society organizations, and other reconstruction stakeholders to plan and implement general STA support to the overall earthquake-affected residents and focused hands-on support to the most vulnerable persons. 

STA teams are nearly done rebuilding houses for more than 1,000 earthquake-affected people like Man Kumari, Padam Bahadur, and Dipa Bahadur. 

All are now preparing to move to safer houses, hopefully before the monsoon starts.

Authors

Sulochana Nepali

Disaster Risk Management Analyst

Join the Conversation

Hart
April 26, 2021

Great to see how this project is helping the people of Nepal build back better after the devastating earth quake. Thank you