Program Update: What has happened since the earthquakes struck Nepal?

Rebuilding Nepal one brick at a time. Photo credit: World Bank


June 30, 2016.  At the end of April, Nepal marked the one-year anniversary of the 2015 earthquake disaster. Although the Earthquake Housing Reconstruction Program is well underway, it has been a challenging first year. In the span of six-months, Nepal suffered two major shocks. The first one was the earthquakes of April and May 2015, which caused a huge loss of life – almost 9,000 deaths -- and the destruction of assets worth over US$7 billion. The second shock came in the form of a near complete disruption of external trade between September 2015 and February 2016. The twin crises have severely tested the resilience of the Nepali people, particularly, the poor and the vulnerable. 

In spite of these difficult challenges, the housing reconstruction effort has moved forward and reached important milestones. Under the leadership of the Government, Nepal is taking steps in the right direction to carry out a successful housing recovery process.

As of June 2016, the following milestones have been met:

  • A Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) and subsequent donor conference were both successfully completed within two months of the earthquake events, with pledges of reconstruction assistance totaling $4.1 billion.  Of the amounts pledged at the conference, the Government has signed over 12 agreements with different development partners.

  • Immediately after the donor conference in June 2015, Nepal experienced a series of political challenges.  These have been widely reported.  To its credit, the government has tried to maintain its focus on earthquake recovery notwithstanding all of those difficulties. 

  • Meanwhile, many bilateral and multilateral organizations, UN agencies, NGOs and private charities continued to support the relief work, including housing and school reconstruction, and ‘winterization’ efforts, despite the logistical challenges caused by the border crisis.

  • The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) was established on December 22, 2015, and the CEO was appointed on December 25th. Since its inception, important progress has been achieved in terms of policies, staffing, legal procedures and direction – all of which are necessary to advance with reconstruction but were not in place before the NRA was established. 

  • The NRA is gradually expanding its presence in the 14 districts most affected in the earthquakes and it is still staffing itself, streamlining procedures and procuring equipment to effectively carry out its role. In addition, the NRA is also establishing 7 regional offices to augment program monitoring and to better address issues on the local level.  

  • The NRA -- with support from the WB, UNDP, JICA, USAID, ADB, DFID and the EU -- led in the preparation of the Post-Disaster Recovery Framework (PDRF) which lays the foundations for development of reconstruction programs and financing plans for all sectors, based on the needs identified in the PDNA.

  • In May 2016, the NRA established a standard agreement with banking associations throughout the country and has since signed more than 50 agreements with commercial banks to disburse subsidies to beneficiaries throughout the country.

  • As of June 1, the household survey in 11 of the 14 most-affected districts is complete with a total of 717,000 households surveyed for earthquake damage under the program. The survey of the remaining 3 Kathmandu valley districts will be completed by October 2016.

  • Enrollment in the program started in March 2016 in Dolakha District. As of early June 2016, over 90,000 households are enrolled in the housing reconstruction program. The program will begin to roll-out in the remaining districts.

  • Currently, over 2000 households have already received the first tranche of NRs 50,000. However, with the banking agreements in place, this number is expected to increase substantially in the next few months. 

  • Training of resilient reconstruction is well underway with over 1,500 masons trained in earthquake-safer construction techniques through the Program.

    These are just a few highlights of what has been accomplished in the past year. Both the Government of Nepal and development partners have been working tirelessly in this effort to help Nepalis rebuild their homes and their lives. This process will continue until Nepalis have more resilient houses and are in a better position to face natural challenges in the future.