In the aftermath of the devastating earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25 and then another on May 12, I watched with the rest of the world as images emerged in the wake of Nepal’s worst calamities of this generation. The dust covered faces of the survivors, the ruins of historic buildings, the dead bodies and the thousands displaced taking shelter in cramped open space. With plenty of international donors and sympathy, the people of Nepal will surely begin the rebuilding process. However, given the mediocrity of the Government’s ability we are likely to face the same problems that stumped Haiti. The well-intentioned donations alone are not the ultimate answer. In fact they could pose bigger unforeseen challenges ahead. For example, a very close friend of mine who headed the Canadian Aid Agency in Haiti during the crisis felt that very small amount of aid actually reached the people. Another friend in Canada helped raise two million dollars which they handed to the Red Cross and all that Red Cross managed was eight huge tents in a few selected parts of Haiti. Recently I and my team were giving away relief materials at my native village in Helambu, and we made a conscious effort to hear the locals out. Our intention was to help them evacuate as huge cracks had developed all around the village but honouring their request we changed our plans and diverted our funds and efforts to something more fruitful. Many well meaning aid groups have shown sincere desire to reach out and offer help. My village development area of Helambu has already received or is in the process of receiving nearly one hundred thousand dollars through various means initiated by people who lived there previously. Funds directly given to local people and local NGOs have proven to be far more beneficial. As it’s evident, most aid agencies and government as well seem focused on short term relief, ignoring the long term planning and strategies. Such attitudes and strategies of people and government alike have led to the sinking of economy in the majority of developing nations like Nepal. What the government needs to do is focus on turning this disaster into an opportunity. In the days to come, people of Nepal will not only need essential supplies like food, clean water and blankets and tarps but also long-lasting plans on how to rebuild, become self reliant and emerge stronger and prosperous. Given the great need, governments and aid organizations must carefully discern how they provide that assistance.
Lessons from Haiti
Published: 12:38 am Jul 31, 2015