Kathmandu, September 1

Roderick James Nugent Stewart, UK minister of state at the Department for International Development (DFID), is in Nepal this week to see the impact of last year’s earthquakes, assess the progress made on reconstruction and reaffirm the UK’s support for Nepal’s development.

The minister met with Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Krishna Bahadur Mahara to discuss the next phase of UK support to Nepal. He also met with the CEO of Nepal Reconstruction Authority, senior government officials and DFID programme partners to discuss how access to bank accounts could be increased to speed up the payment of housing grants to earthquake affected households, according to a media release issued today.

The minister will meet with Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal before he leaves Nepal.

He is the first UK Minister to visit Nepal since the new UK Government was formed in July.

The minister will see first-hand the impact of the earthquake and how UK aid is helping Nepal to ‘build back better’.

“DFID’s work with the Nepal government and the finance sector can allow grants and housing support to be paid directly to the people of Nepal through easy access to mobile banking,” says the release. “This is particularly important in remote areas where there are very few bank branches.”

There are currently 143 branchless banking points in Nepal with over 10,000 new accounts opened in the first four months of the roll out.

Last year, the UK played a leading role in the Nepal earthquakes response by addressing the humanitarian needs of the Nepali people and supporting the long-term recovery and reconstruction efforts of the country. UK support is helping to build a safer, healthier and more prosperous world which is firmly in the interests of both countries, the release says.

To see how DFID Nepal works in support of poor and marginalised communities the minister will meet representatives from community groups, local government and the police. He will also meet with the CEO of Investment Board Nepal (IBN) to discuss the UK’s support for hydropower projects in Nepal.