Kathmandu, October 25
Relief for the eight million people affected by the huge Nepal earthquake six months ago is still being disrupted by delays in reinstating the government’s National Reconstruction Agency (NRA), Oxfam has said in a press statement.
NRA has remained in limbo after the government legislation that originally created it lapsed almost two months ago — a Replacement Bill to renew its legal mandate has yet to be passed by the parliament.
An on-going fuel crisis is adding to the problems, putting at risk the health and safety of thousands of people as winter approaches. More than 8,600 people were killed and half a million houses destroyed by the quake. Fuel deliveries from India have been constrained for more than a month, causing shortages that are preventing Oxfam and other aid agencies from reaching an estimated 81,000 families who need durable shelter and relief items such as blankets before sub-zero temperatures set in.
An estimated 850,000 homes were destroyed or badly damaged in the 7.6 magnitude earthquake six months ago and subsequent aftershocks. Tens of thousands of people are still living in basic shelters built from bamboo and corrugated
metal, which are not fit for freezing winter conditions.
John Augsburger, Oxfam humanitarian programme director in Nepal, said, “The Nepal government must put recovery efforts back on track by immediately passing the Bill that will reinstate the NRA. It must also urgently resolve the ongoing fuel crisis before it is too late for us to deliver winter supplies to affected communities.”
“The fuel crisis is narrowing the window we have to reach communities before the cold winter sets in. Temperatures frequently drop below zero in mountainous Nepal and this is going to take its toll on earthquake survivors — particularly the elderly, pregnant women and children,” said Augsburger.
Oxfam, in the statement, thanked people from around world for their generosity due to which it has been able to reach more than 445,000 people in seven of the worst-hit districts. Oxfam is providing blankets, mattresses,and warm clothing to help with the cold, as well as shelter kits, clean water, toilets, hygiene equipment and rice seeds.
Jagannath Kurmi, chairman of the National Network of Community based Disaster Management Committees (NCDMC), said, “It is still unclear what the government’s support for reconstruction will look like. The reconstruction work has been very sluggish. People somehow survived the monsoon but they will soon be facing the challenge of the winter, if they are not provided with adequate support. Winter kits should be provided immediately.”
Kurmi further added that in the absence of clear designs and guidelines, those able to rebuild their houses have not yet started rebuilding. “The government must push forward with the reconstruction work and should also make it possible for the poor and the earthquake-affected to get support.”
Oxfam, through the statement, has called on government and all parties involved to immediately resolve fuel crisis to ensure that essential supplies start flowing again.
A version of this article appears in print on October 27, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.