Housing sector to require Rs 69.97bn next fiscal

KATHMANDU: The housing sector will require a fund of at least Rs 69.97 billion in the next fiscal to restore dwellings destroyed by earthquakes of April and May and execute activities related to recovery, such as demolition, rubble removal and construction of temporary shelters.

Of the funding needs identified for the next fiscal, Rs 40 billion has been allocated for house reconstruction, Rs 14.97 billion for development of temporary shelters and Rs three billion for repair and retrofitting, says the Volume ‘A’ of Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) Report made public by the National Planning Commission (NPC).

The total amount required in fiscal year 2015-16 for recovery and reconstruction is 21.35 per cent of the total needs of the housing sector, which stands at Rs 377.76 billion.

“Although the funding requirement for next fiscal appears small considering total needs of the sector and urgency to rebuild dwellings that were destroyed, we have devised a plan to complete recovery and reconstruction works over the next five years. So, we believe spending will be made accordingly by the government, individuals and communities over that horizon,” NPC Member Govinda Nepal told The Himalayan Times.

Works related to recovery and reconstruction in the housing sector are likely to take quite some time because comprehensive geophysical risk assessment needs to be undertaken in areas prone to disasters, like landslides. And if the studies suggest impossibility of ‘in situ solution’, entire settlements may have to be relocated, says the report. So, until proper arrangements are made, many earthquake victims may have to reside in temporary shelters.

Also, a house-by-house damage assessment and eligibility survey are likely to be conducted. Only upon completion of these processes, ‘identified beneficiaries will receive reconstruction assistance — financial, technical and social — that will empower them to lead their own recovery efforts once it is verified they have complied with safe construction standards’, says the report. “Basic structure of housing recovery programme will be based on owner-driven reconstruction approach.”

The earthquake of April 25 and its numerous aftershocks caused widespread destruction of housing and human settlements. At least 591,647 private houses were completely destroyed and another 276,395 houses suffered partial damage. In total, the housing sector suffered damage worth Rs 303.63 billion and losses worth Rs 46.91 billion.

“The large-scale destruction of housing resulted primarily from the seismic vulnerability of unreinforced masonry houses that predominate throughout the country,” says the report.

The report shows that 95 per cent of houses that were fully damaged were low strength masonry stone or brick masonry with mud mortar, without seismic-resilient feature. Other common building types, such as cement-mortared masonry and reinforced concrete (RC) frame buildings were somewhat better off but still suffered significantly due to deficiencies in material, detailing and craftsmanship.

So, beyond ensuring that all houses are rebuilt to hazard-resistant standards, recovery and reconstruction should address underlying vulnerabilities, says the report, adding, “Recovery should, therefore, foster reformative rather than restorative processes, tackling the risks on the basis of in-depth studies.”