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Rebuilding Nepal After Earthquake

Photographer: Narendra Shrestha

 

Mali Gurung, 22, was thankful when her 13-month-old baby boy was recovered alive from their destroyed home in Barpak, close to the epicenter of the April 2015 earthquake in Nepal. She is living in a temporary shelter with her husband and son.

 

Millions of Nepalese are still struggling with the harsh reality of 25 April 2015 when a 7.9-magnitude earthquake struck the nation. It killed more than 9,000 people, injured at least 23,000, wiped out 200,000 homes, 20,000 schools and destroyed more than 700 monuments.

 

14 of 75 districts were badly affected; among them Gorkha, Sindhupalchwok, Nuwakot, Sankhu, and Bhaktapur. Kathmandu was one of the most heavily damaged districts, with most of its historical buildings collapsing. UNESCO World Heritage Sites across the capital - including Kathmandu Durbar Square and the iconic Dharhara Tower - collapsed or were left severely damaged. Over 300 people were inside the 200-feet high Dharhara Tower at the time of its collapse. The ground shaking and building structures failing, the quake caused avalanches, mudslides, ground displacement and soil liquefaction. Mount Everest was also affected. Due to ground displacement, most of the underground water sources were blocked and irrigation systems were hampered. Over 90 per cent of the earthquake-affected population is still living in areas at high risk of avalanches and landslides.

 

Education has been hit too, due to lack of classrooms. Most schools are functioning under tin roofs and in open spaces. A woman and young girls are at risk of trafficking in Nepal's major cities and in neighboring India for household work or sex work in brothels. Young people in the villages affected were dreaming of a better future, despite poor living standards, but the earthquake destroyed their homes as well as their hopes. The majority of youths in Gorkha district are willing to leave their villages, waiting to receive NRs. 200,000 (USD 2,000) in relief funds from the government to migrate to the Middle East for job opportunities.

 

Nepal is struggling to move beyond the destruction and grief, and the recovery process is taking too long, despite international pledges for humanitarian and rebuilding support. Nepal needs at least USD 6.7 billion to rebuild itself. The government has promised to distribute an earthquake relief package worth NRs. 200,000 (USD 2,000) to every family to rebuild their homes. Until then, earthquake survivors are forced to live in either temporary shelters or the homes they were left with after the earthquake.

 

The National Reconstruction Authority has started to distribute relief packages, but it will take a long time for all survivors to benefit as authorities have to verify genuine earthquake victims beforehand. In spite of this, earthquake survivors had started to move forward. Makeshift schools of tarpaulin and tin are operating, farmers are preparing their fields, tourism is getting back to normal, restaurants and bars are open, and people are helping each other to build new earthquake-resistant homes. Within the first year of the disaster, people are learning to move on with their lives in a new Nepal, which has lost much of its traditional landscapes and heritage, which will be replaced by modern equivalents.