While thinking and preparing ourselves for future shocks, there is also all the catching up we have to do to reach the most vulnerable survivors of the 2015 earthquake. It is not just about distributing the insufficient amount earmarked for rebuilding homes, but also rehabilitating families, providing skills training and finding jobs near home for them.
The National Disaster Management Act has been passed, but where is the Authority? The NRA now needs to be phased out (it wasn’t much help anyway) to prepare for the Next Big Ones. It is a feeble hope, but let us not get bogged down in turf battles and allow the Home Ministry to mess it up with political appointments and job distribution to party faithful again.
Under the federal structure, we have a new opportunity to decentralise disaster preparedness, planning and management. Every municipality now has to take responsibility from ward level up, so that there is a search, rescue and relief plan in place. But given that so many mayors and local elected officials are contractors who are awarding construction jobs to themselves, there is not much hope. We wish the incompetence of Kathmandu Municipality in earthquake rehabilitation of monuments was an exception, but it is the rule. The delays in rebuilding Rani Pokhari and Kastamandap are national disasters in themselves. It is hard to figure out who is more culpable — Mayor Shakya or the Department of Archaeology.
There are lessons to be learnt about how not to organise compensation for rebuilding. While a lot more of the grants have been cleared, there are many families who have found loopholes to build tiny cement sheds just to get their hands on the cash.
As our coverage this past month in the run-up to the fourth anniversary of the quake, and in this issue, indicate: it is now time to also turn our attention to the seismic risk in the rest of the country. For the past four years, we have been in rehab mode, picking up the pieces of the damage in Central Nepal’s 14 districts. It bears repeating that the risk is now to the whole country from the massive slip that is bound to occur sooner or later in Western Nepal. There is no other way to put it: the death and destruction from it will be nationwide and catastrophic.
Read also: Ain’t seen nothing yet, Editorial