“The Projects should respect the need of the communities.”

Subarna Shrestha has been serving as Mayor of Sankharapur Municipality in Kathmandu for the past one year. For the second issue of the PRAGATI newsletter, Mayor Shrestha spoke to Ishwar Rauniyar, the Communication Officer of PRAGATI Project, about his views on the role of development partners in Nepal after the earthquake.

Mayor 1Excerpts:

  1. How do you see the reconstruction in Shankharapur?

Shankharapur Municipality was one of the most affected areas during 2015 earthquake.  Nearly 6000 houses were damaged partially or completely. Numerous culturally and traditionally significant monuments were also damaged. To be honest, reconstruction was not gaining any pace at the beginning; it is slightly gaining the pace but still it is not satisfactory.

  1. What are the main hurdles and gaps for slow pace of reconstruction?

I find inadequate awareness as a major reason for delay. Those whose houses were completely damaged had a misconception that the government will provide all required support to reconstruct their house. Because of the same they were less motivated to construct their house with their own resource. Neither the local government clarified it nor the affected people realize it earlier. Hence reconstruction was slow. After living in temporary shelters for more than 2 years post earthquake with little support coming from government, they have realized that government has just extended minor support for reconstruction. Ever since number of people reconstructing houses has increased.

  1. In the post earthquake scenario, many NGOs, INGOs have come to Shankharapur to work. How do you see their engagement?

With financial support from Oxfam, Lumanti Support group for shelter, Homenet, Lutheran World Relief are working in the most affected area. Lumanti has provided technical support to the community facilitating the administrative process and development of house design. This has also helped in increasing motivation of people and pace of reconstruction. Homenet supported in livelihood recovery of the people whose home based enterprise was disrupted by the earthquake by providing those materials and working space to earn their living. WHR also supported single women to recover their livelihood.

Recently PRAGATI project is added to the list which is more focused on urban disaster risk reduction and is carrying activities aligning to need of municipality. I believe, along with recovery and reconstruction from different projects, this project will be helpful to build back better and prepare the community for future disaster.

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“We want I/NGOs to coordinate and collaborate with the municipality in taking project interventions forward”

INTERVIEW 

Som Prasad Mishra has been serving as Mayor of Changunarayan Municipality in Bhaktapur for the past six months. For the first issue of the PRAGATI newsletter, Mayor Mishra spoke to Shakti Gurung, the Project Coordinator of FSCN in Bhaktapur, about his views on the role of development partners in Nepal after the earthquake. IMG_1622Excerpts:

What would you say has been the contribution of development and humanitarian agencies in post-earthquake reconstruction efforts in Nepal?

As far as Changunarayan is concerned, we’re very positive about the assistance we’ve received so far. Organizations working in this area have carried out their interventions in a very coordinated manner, and this has helped to prevent duplications in relief distribution and other forms of support. This was a major concern for us as a government institution—we wanted to have a common platform for all efforts in Changunarayan so that the real needs of the community could be identified and addressed.

In this respect, various development and humanitarian organizations have been supporting the reconstruction process in our municipality. Their contribution has ranged from livelihood support and water supply schemes, to training of masons in safer construction practices, among others. Some, like DCA and FSCN, have also supported data collection to do with earthquake-affected households, which is a valuable asset for the municipality in the long run, enabling us to better plan future programmes and actions.

How far along is the municipality in terms of reconstruction?

Reconstruction has begun in earnest, but the going is somewhat slow due to a variety of constraints. To start with, the procedure to apply for and receive grants in itself is rather lengthy and complex, and houseowners have reported difficulty in completing and submitting the required forms and documents. Around 8,000 people so far have received the first installment of the grant, whereas only 1,000 have so far received the second, and just one person has claimed the third. One of the issues was that people had to pay for getting their construction drawings approved, so with this in mind, we have made it free of cost for the next year to encourage people to come forth. The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) has also arranged a meeting with the municipality’s ward chairs to hold discussions on the reconstruction process.

IMG_1625What are your expectations from non-governmental organizations?

We’ve always been very appreciative of their concern and support for the people of Changunarayan; their work has so far well complemented the programmes and objectives of the municipality. So, at this point, we’re hoping for more of the same, really—we would like them to do their utmost to coordinate and collaborate with the municipality in taking their interventions forward.

Could you talk more specifically about the efforts of ECHO – ADRA and NDRC/DCA and FSCN in the wake of the disaster insofar as recovery and reconstruction are concerned?

Again, I’d say the experience has been very positive. DCA/FSCN have been steadfast in their willingness to help the municipality, starting immediately after the disaster. They provided relief materials like food baskets, cash support and water trucks, as well as psychological counselling for traumatized citizens. I myself was personally involved in these programmes.

And the support continued long after that initial period. The MAGPI data collection at the household level, and the exertions of the ongoing PRAGATI to establish IMC, MEOC and CC/DRR learning centers in the municipality, are just some examples of how they’ve helped the municipality embrace concrete disaster risk management and disaster response measures. They have also been instrumental in facilitating the formation of the MDMC and WDMCs, which the new DRR Act has now deemed mandatory for all municipalities in the country.

Do you have any recommendations to offer to increase the efficiency of the reconstruction process in your municipality?

In the case of Changunarayan, one of the most difficult issues we are facing at present is the fact that most of the earthquake-affected people have been living on land that they don’t own. And it’s very difficult to determine who the actual owners are, since many do not possess land-ownership documents, thereby preventing them from applying for grants.

Given this situation, we are presently lobbying with the NRA to develop a provision for people who have been living on a given piece of land for more than five or six generations, to enable them to acquire the reconstruction grants and gain the authority to rebuild their homes on these plots, even without a land-ownership document. Only then can the reconstruction process be sped up satisfactorily.

 

Painting to Sensitize DRR Issue

In a bid to sensitize issues of Disaster Risk Reduction and celebrate International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) 2017, the PRAGATI project organised a rally and painting competition (#HomeSafeHomeTheme) on 13th October in Shankharapur Municipality in collaboration with Lumanti Support Group for Shelter and in coordination with Shankharapur municipality. The project also held an interaction programme in Changunarayan Municipality to celebrate the day.

The project is funded by European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO) and implemented by DCA Nepal, ADRA Nepal and VSO through their local partners NDRC in Shankharapur Municipality and FSCN in Changunarayan Municipality.

Photo Feature

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