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Donor conference to chalk out plan for reconstruction

The devastating earthquake of 7.8-magnitude that shook the country on April 25, and the numerous aftershocks that followed, left the country with losses amounting to a third of the total economy.
With the National Planning Commission prepared Post-Disaster Needs Assesment (PDNA) estimates damages worth Rs 515 billion ($5.15 billion), losses of Rs 19 billion ($1.9 billion) and recovery cost at Rs 666 billion ($6.6 billion), the government is preparing to present the estimation before the development partners on June 25.
As the country with some 26 million people is struggling to get back on its feet, the donor conference could bring some relief. But the reconstruction cost of Rs 666 billion for over five years to get out of the disaster means the development partners have enough time to restructure their announced programmes and bring new programmes with more aid commitment.
The worst disaster of the history in Nepal that floored over 8,000 houses, and claimed some 22,000 lives leaving 1,000 health facilities damaged, stole their livelihoods, mostly poor, subsistence farmers of half a million households.
According to the census of the Central Bureau of Statistics, average number of a household stands at 4.9, which means the devastation has left some 4 million homeless. One in every seven Nepalis has been rendered homeless, whereas one in every three Nepalis is affected by the earthquake.
Likewise, almost one million population has been pushed back to the poverty trap due to the disaster, according to vice chair of the National Planning Commission Dr Govind raj Pokharel.
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) claimed that some 8.1 million people are in need of humanitarian support and 1.9 million require food assistance. The UN had appealed for $422 million but it could raise only 129 million.
The donor conference on June 25 in Kathmandu is expected to chalk out strategies for reconstruction and the provision of financial support over next five years.
The country not only needs to reconstruct but also do it better than in the past to ensure that next natural disaster should not be able to pull us back from the development goals that the country has already achieved, he said, adding that the government aims at mobilising the maximum cooperation in the donors conference for the post-earthquake reconstruction.
A conference preparation committee under the coordination of finance minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat is working at a war footing in preparation for the conference and the preparations have reached the final stages.
Apart from PDNA report, the government will also present a high-level mechanism that would look after post-quake reconstruction, rehabilitation and rebuilding works in a transparent manner utilising the assistance, he said, adding that the government will also assure the donors of the transparency in the aid expenditure explaining them that the expenses would be audited by the Office of the Comptroller General and also monitored by the Legislature-Parliament.
The planning commission has already suggested the government to form a National Resettlement, New-construction Implementation Committee under the Prime Minister.
The donors will also be shown around the earthquake-affected areas a day before the conference. Similarly, the donors would be given a real glimpse of the damage caused by the devastating earthquake through a documentary, which would be shown during the conference.
The government has already invited 62 countries and donor agencies for their participation. The government will ask for grants as far as possible and if not concessional loan, Mahat added. “But the government would not take conditional loan.”
The other objective of the conference is also to deliver positive message that most of the touristic destinations were not damaged and infrastructures are also safe from the devastating quake.
However, all expectations would not be fulfilled only from the conference itself as the budgetary system in Nepal and foreign countries are based on their own modalities, however they could express their commitment to support the reconstruction projects in the conference, he said.
Earlier, the government had set up a National Reconstruction Fund of Rs 200 billion with Rs 20 billion seed money. The pledges by the donors in the conference will also go to the Fund.
The conference jointly conducted by the government, Asian Development Bank, European Union, India, Japan International Cooperation Agency, United Nations and World Bank will brainstorm on effective and better reconstruction, apart from preparing livelihood for worst-hit populace.