Relief for the 8 million people affected by the huge Nepal earthquake six months ago is still being disrupted by delays in reinstating the government’s National Reconstruction Agency, says Oxfam. The NRA has remained in limbo after the government legislation that originally created it lapsed almost two months ago - a replacement bill to renew its legal mandate has yet to be passed by Parliament.
An ongoing fuel crisis is adding to the problems, putting at risk the health and safety of thousands of people as winter approaches. More than 8,600 people were killed and half a million houses destroyed by the quake.
Protests at the border with India have held up fuel deliveries for more than a month, causing shortages that are preventing Oxfam and other aid agencies from reaching an estimated 81,000 families who need durable shelter and relief items such as blankets before sub-zero temperatures set in.
An estimated 850,000 homes were destroyed or badly damaged in the 7.6 magnitude earthquake six months ago and subsequent aftershocks. Tens of thousands of people are still living in basic shelters built from bamboo and corrugated metal, which are not fit for freezing winter conditions.
John Augsburger, Oxfam Humanitarian Program Director in Nepal, said: "The Nepal government must put recovery efforts back on track by immediately passing the bill that will reinstate the NRA. It must also urgently resolve the ongoing fuel crisis before it is too late for us to deliver winter supplies to affected communities.
“The fuel crisis is narrowing the window we have to reach communities before the cold winter sets in. Temperatures frequently drop below zero in mountainous Nepal and this is going to take its toll on earthquake survivors - particularly the elderly, pregnant women and children.”
Thanks to the generosity of publics around the world, Oxfam has been able to reach more than 445,000 people in seven of the worst-hit districts. Oxfam is providing blankets, mattresses, and warm clothing to help with the cold, as well as shelter kits, clean water, toilets, hygiene equipment and rice seeds.
Jagannath Kurmi, Chairman of the National Network of Community based Disaster Management Committees (NCDMC), said: “It is still unclear what the government’s support for reconstruction will look like. The reconstruction work has been very sluggish. People somehow survived the monsoon but they will soon be facing the challenge of the winter, if they are not provided with adequate support. The winterization kits should be provided immediately.
"In the absence of clear designs and guidelines, those able to rebuild their houses have not yet started rebuilding. The government must push forward with the reconstruction work. The government should also make it possible for the poor and the earthquake-affected to get support.”
Oxfam is calling on the Government of Nepal and all parties involved to immediately resolve the fuel crisis, to ensure that essential supplies start flowing again.
Notes to editors
1. Oxfam has prepared a media briefing together with its partners in Nepal, the National Network of Community based Disaster Management Committees (NCDMC), the Humanitarian Accountability Monitoring Initiative (HAMI) and the Himalaya Conservation Group (HCG).
2. The Government rightly proposes that recovery and reconstruction should be equitable and inclusive ensuring benefits of the reconstruction process equally benefits all, empowering local communities in the process. In order for this to happen, Oxfam says the government needs to immediately act on the following:
- Parliament needs to urgently pass the bill that reinstates the National Reconstruction Authority so that momentum can be regained in terms of developing recovery and reconstruction plans.
- Urgently address barriers to the delivery of humanitarian goods and services before winter sets in.
- Ensure that shelter and livelihoods recovery are prioritized and fully integrated into reconstruction plans.
- Establish clear mechanisms for the genuine participation of communities at district and village levels.
3. A 7.6 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on 25 April 2015, killing almost 9,000 people and affecting a further eight million people - a third of the population. A second 7.3 magnitude earthquake occurred on 12 May. Both earthquakes destroyed 605,254 houses and damaged a further 288,255.
4. Nepal is reliant on shipments from India for all of its fuel. Protesters have blocked a number of border crossings in Nepal's southern districts, resulting in food and medicine shortages and fuel to aid agencies, restricting their movement. Strict limits have been imposed on the sale of fuel to taxis, school buses, private cars, motorcycles and scooters. The price of vital construction materials has also increased.
5. Oxfam has reached more than 445,000 people in the last six months. The international agency is working in seven of the worst-affected districts: Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Kathmandu, Sindhupalchok, Dhading, Gorkha and Nuwakot. Oxfam has distributed 55,000 shelter kits, 50,000 hygiene kits and installed almost 8,000 toilets. We have also assisted almost 10,000 households with food and 30,000 farmers with rice seeds to ensure they did not miss the planting season.