Nepal | August 15, 2020

Independence Day 2020

Equitable reconstruction

Quantum shift in governance

Gyan Basnet
Share Now:

The post-disaster reconstruction project must be undertaken in a transparent manner. All members of affected communities should be provided with equal access to information regarding the adopted recovery strategy

Edp 16 Sep_reconstruction copy

The deadly earthquake  a few months ago and its subsequent aftershocks have left the country devastated. Thousands have been killed, and many more have been seriously injured. Millions have been displaced and are homeless. During the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction the Government promised to implement reconstruction and resettlement projects. After months of delay planning is finally under way, and the Government has  appointed a project chief executive.

The donor community and development partners have pledged over 4.4 billion dollars to rebuild public properties and help the victims. The success of the disaster reconstruction project is absolutely vital for the nation. The Government and every stakeholder must take it extremely seriously.

The manner of implementation will be every bit as important as the result. We need to develop proper strategies, plans, and programmes to make optimum use of the reconstruction to achieve the desired outcome. The needy have to be consulted, and planning has to be transparent.

The victims should be treated with dignity and respect. They are not beggars. The State has a primary duty and responsibility to provide assistance to every person who is affected by disaster and to protect his or her human rights. The right to receive assistance is a fundamental humanitarian principle that applies to every citizen in equal manner, and it is the major duty of the Government and national authorities to comply. Otherwise what is the point of having a state and government? Countless people are currently in need of relief. Their houses have been damaged, and they no longer have water supply. According to recent figures 500,000 people have been measurably displaced by the disaster. Disaster
relief and reconstruction is not a charity but an entitlement, and the claim rights of victims and of society as a whole need to be recognized. Where otherwise is respect of the dignity of the victims?

The aims of national reconstruction and resettlement planning should be promoted by duty-bearers operating in line with international human rights’ standards of equity, justice and fair distribution. The adoption of the human rights approach to reconstruction planning is also paramount to making stakeholders and the Government accountable and responsible. Natural disaster affects civil and political as well as economic, social and cultural rights. During reconstruction, those rights of the affected population should be protected against all kinds of discrimination on the basis of race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion. If humanitarian assistance and reconstruction policies are not based on a human rights framework, there is a risk that the focus will be too narrow and the basic needs of the victims and of the people as a whole will not be integrated in a comprehensive manner.

It is vital that reconstruction planning is conducted in a participatory manner. It has to be inclusive. The State and policy makers must identify relevant measures to ensure that affected persons and their communities are fully consulted and can actively and meaningfully participate in all stages of the disaster response.The reconstruction policies and plans must aim for social, cultural, and political development and economic growth that will benefit all. This should apply especially in relation to the disadvantaged and vulnerable rather than merely to those who are near and dear to party leaders or who have loud voices. Reconstruction planning needs a bottom-up approach with ordinary people having a chance to be involved in the decision-making.The needs of the locals must seriously be taken into account. We must ensure that every individual is consulted and can participate in the very process of reconstruction.

The post-disaster reconstruction project must be undertaken in a transparent manner. All members of affected communities should be provided with equal access to information regarding the adopted recovery strategy. So far transparency and accountability in governance appear to be totally lacking. Rampant corruption within our system is a huge obstacle to achieving any positive outcome. Such corruption negates the rights of disaster victims, depriving them of their right to be informed and to participate and denying them access to economic and social welfare. To tackle this corruption, strong monitoring mechanisms are needed to assess the progress of each reconstruction and resettlement project. It is essential to establish effective monitoring mechanisms, benchmarks and indicators to ensure that the protection of the human rights of those affected by this tragedy, notably the displaced, is effectively implemented.

The process and outcome of reconstruction and resettlement must be inclusive and fair, and the affected people must be at the centre of the project. We must set short- and long-term goals to rebuild the nation. Respect for the norms and values of human rights will be vital at every stage of recovery and reconstruction, and the process that we adopt should be participatory, accountable and transparent with equity in decision-making while maintaining respect for civil and political rights.

Dr Basnet holds a PhD in human rights from Lancaster University


A version of this article appears in print on September 17, 2015 of The Himalayan Times.


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Leipzig stun Atletico to reach Champions League last four

LISBON: RB Leipzig stunned Atletico Madrid, with a 2-1 victory in their Champions League quarter-final on Thursday, to reach the competition's last four for the first time in their club's short history. With two minutes of normal time remaining, United States midfielder Tyler Adams snatched Read More...

Govt urged to rescue Nepalis stranded abroad

Kathmandu, August 13 The National Human Rights Commission has recommended that the Government of Nepal rescue Nepalis stranded in foreign countries on the basis of their financial condition and risk analysis. ‘Report on Human Rights Situation of Nepali Migrant Workers during the COVID-19 Pan Read More...

Mexico, coronavirus outbreak;

Mexico, with over 500,000 coronavirus cases, to help with vaccine

MEXICO CITY: Mexico, having hit over half a million official coronavirus cases and 55,000 deaths as the pandemic rages across Latin America, will help produce a vaccine that could be distributed in the region next year, authorities said on Thursday. President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has s Read More...

The office of the prime minister and council of ministers, OPMCM

Compensation announced for victims’ families in Soti incident

Kathmandu, August 13 The government has decided to provide Rs 1 million each to the families of victims in the Soti incident. Meeting of the Council of Ministers decided to provide monetary relief to the families of the victims of the incident that occurred on May 23 at Soti, Chaurjahari-8, in Read More...

Peru, coronavirus

Peru surpasses 500,000 coronavirus cases, marks highest fatality rate in LatAm

LIMA: Peru surpassed half a million coronavirus cases and has the highest fatality rate in Latin America, according to health ministry data on Thursday, as the government struggles to contain a recent surge of infections. There have been 507,996 confirmed cases and 25,648 related deaths, vice Read More...

Jobs of nearly 50,000 workers associated with party venues, catering services at risk

KATHMANDU, AUGUST 13 The monthly salary of Rs 15,000 was barely enough for Keshav Kunwar, a resident of Bhaktapur, to make ends meet. But when the government announced a nationwide lockown in March to control the spread of coronavirus, the party palace he was working for also shuttered, thereby c Read More...

No religious fair at Gokarneshwor temple

Kathmandu, August 13 A religious fair that takes place each year at Gokarneshwor Mahadev Temple, on the outskirts of Kathmandu on the new-moon-day in the month of Bhadra of the lunar calendar has been cancelled this year due to the COVID crisis. This year the event falls on August 19. On this Read More...

Govt directed to submit report on management of old vehicles

Kathmandu, August 13 The Supreme Court has issued an order to the Government of Nepal, directing it to submit a report, with proposal and action plan, on the management of dysfunctional vehicles and materials dumped on the premises of government offices. In response to a writ petition filed by Read More...