“I had already received and spent the first tranche, so I felt trapped,” says Shrestha. “I was worried that my family would be black-listed, and my children would not be able to go to school.”
Like many others, Shrestha’s new home is so small her family will not fit in it. They could add floors later, but that would make it vulnerable to future earthquakes.
Thousands of families in the quake zone are now hurriedly building one-room structures, fearing the repercussions of not being able to meet the July deadline. The NRA can now claim reconstruction has speeded up, but most homes are not fit to live in.
“The government’s housing reconstruction and retrofit grants are a huge opportunity to leverage safer housing, but it could be lost if tranche disbursement deadlines continue to force people to build homes that do not meet their living requirements simply to get the grant,” explains Siobhan Kennedy at the Housing Recovery and Reconstruction Platform (HRRP).
When the NRA first announced the deadline last year, only 42,576 private houses had been completed. That figure shot up to 196,149 this July — a four-fold increase in just one year. The NRA and the government can boast that they are meeting targets, but the figures hide the fact that a significant number of the new houses are small, one-room makeshift structures.
Sangita Tamang, 36, is building a one-room house also too small for her seven-member family. Her old mud and brick house perched near Shivapuri National Park was damaged by the earthquake, but the family continued to live there after plastering the cracks.