In Nepal: After The Earthquake, Al Jazeera English’s award-winning 101 East team returns to Nepal to see how the country is coping – a year after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake left more than 8 000 dead, having destroyed 8 000 schools and 900 000 homes.
The international community pledged US$4.1bn in the wake of the earthquake, the worst in 80 years in Nepal, but one year later little progress has been made. “In some of the remote areas, it’s like time has stood still since 25 April 2015,” says 101 East’s reporter Chan Tau Chou.
There are still piles of rubble where villages used to be. Many of the survivors still live in makeshift shelters. Some have gone into crippling debt to pay for follow-up medical care.
Chan returns to the mountainous region of Sindhupalchowk, one of the worst hit by the earthquake. He discovers that the emergency ward of the main public hospital there – Chautara Hospital – is still operating out of a tent; that there are power cuts and water shortages; and that during the brutal winter, at least six people died from the cold in Sindhupalchowk alone.
Nepal’s government has promised $2 000 for each affected family to build a new house, but officials have only just started working out who’s eligible.
“No one here has received a cent and they may never get any money,” says Chan. “The government insists all new homes must be earthquake resistant. But most villagers haven’t been told what that means. They can’t wait any longer. They’ve taken up loans to build the same kind of houses they used to live in, using what they salvaged from the rubble.”
The government took almost eight months to appoint a CEO to steer the National Reconstruction Authority, the official committee in charge of rebuilding. Sushil Gyewali was finally appointed in December.
When Chan asks him why it’s taken so long to do so little, Gyewali says, “Certainly it is a long time from the perspective of the people, but if we look into the Reconstruction Authority itself, we have finalised the different by-laws that are needed, legal instruments that are needed for expediting the process… It is not just about the distribution of the money; it is also to ensure the safe construction. Our country is a disaster-prone area, so we have to ensure that.”
When asked for a timeline, he says, “At the end of five years, certainly all the reconstruction tasks will be completed.”
Watch and embed the full documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=En65cR5gw4g