One year later, rebuilding lags in quake-hit Nepal: aid groups

NEW YORK (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A year after a deadly earthquake flattened cities and villages in Nepal, rebuilding efforts must be speeded up to lift millions of survivors out of misery, aid groups said on Wednesday.

A man stands outside his house, which was damaged during last year's earthquake, in Bhaktapur, Nepal, January 29, 2016. REUTERS/Navesh Chitrakar

Reconstruction is just getting underway in many areas of the tiny Himalayan nation, and some three million people are living in temporary shelters with tarpaulin roofs, according to Save the Children, CARE International and others.

The earthquake that struck on April 25, 2015 killed some 9,000 people and injured more than 22,000 others, according to the United Nations and government figures.

The quake damaged or destroyed more than 900,000 houses.

“Having already braved a very cold winter... (survivors) are now facing the prospect of another monsoon season, which will start in June,” said Delailah Borja, country director for the international Save the Children in a statement.

Donors have pledged $4.1 billion for reconstruction, but rebuilding has been delayed by internal political upheaval. The nation has been in turmoil since a new constitution was adopted last September.

The delays in reconstruction have been blamed for more than a dozen deaths this winter, mostly of elderly people.

Save the Children expressed concern over certain communities that have been marginalized in the relief effort.

“For example, cash handouts were payable only to the owner of the house, meaning those who were renting ... didn’t get the money they so desperately needed,” Borja said.

CARE International voiced concern that women and girls in particular were suffering since the disaster.

“Landless women and girls are the most vulnerable in this situation,” said Lora Wuennenberg, CARE’s country director for Nepal, in a statement.

Unmarried, widowed and divorced women have had only limited access to relief measures, according to UN Women.

The U.N. has reported an increase in domestic violence against women since the earthquake.

Four out of five Nepalese quake survivors report their reconstruction needs are not being addressed, according to data collected by #quakeHelpDesk, an initiative led by the Accountability Lab, a technology incubator, and Local Interventions Group.