Call to rebuild fairer, more equal country

Kathmandu, May 17

An extensive survey ‘Building Back Right: Ensuring Equality in Land Rights and Reconstruction in Nepal’ that focuses on the need for fair and equitable post-earthquake reconstruction was released amid a special function organised in the capital today.

The report jointly commissioned and prepared by Oxfam Nepal, Humanitarial Accountability Monitoring Initiative, Himalayan Conservation Group, National Network of Community Disaster Management Committee Nepa and Community Self-Reliance Centre Nepal calls on the government to ensure that reconstruction and resettlement policies and programmes are inclusive of women and those who are landless.

At the same time, it seeks to address historical social inequalities and rebuild stronger Nepal.

The report demonstrates how women and landless people are being marginalised and excluded from relief effort and will likely be excluded from reconstruction and resettlement programmes if specific provisions are not made to address their need.

“Lessons from other disasters around the world demonstrate that this exacerbates long-term inequality and poverty, with affected countries struggling to fully recover after many years.

The governmentand civil society groups must ensure that reconstruction includes women and landless people, especially the squatters,” suggested the report.

It has recommended that the government and international non-governmental organisations provide additional financial support to the poorest and most vulnerable, especially female-headed families, single women, landless and squatters, as the existing Rs 200,000 support grant to rebuild is insufficient.

“The government policies and plans, particularly the Land Use Bill, must include provisions for women and landless people besides undertaking geological surveys immediately to identify safe resettlement sites.

At the same time, suitable agricultural land should be identified,” it recommended, adding that resettlement policies and plans need to be integrated with agricultural land plans, including Land Use Bill.

Oxfam’s director in Nepal, Cecilia Keizer, said, “It is very difficult for Oxfam to accept that hundreds of thousands of people will be living in temporary shelters or unsafe houses for a second year because of delays in reconstruction and that a significant number might not qualify for support.

We urge the government to heed the lessons of previous disasters and ensure that the most vulnerable groups  women, landless, Dalits and indigenous people are not pushed to the back of the queue.

Nepal’s reconstruction remains an opportunity to rebuild not only a stronger country, but a fairer and more equal one.”