A Looming Disaster

The monsoon is going to be tough.

one month after the disaster the situation in the affected areas is an unimagined nightmare...... 70 Village Development Committees (VDCs) have received no relief ..... These VDCs are administrative units, each covering several square kilometres and including perhaps 1,000 households, and many thousands of people. They have very little food or shelter. ....... the mess that Nepal was already living with. ..... Many of the worst affected areas received little, or almost nothing, in terms of government or donor-driven support even before the earthquake. ..... There has always been an incompetent administration and political class, which is obsessed with control of resources, but callous in its lack of urgency in providing for needy rural people. ...... the army's top leadership has displayed its undue power over the civilian government, and its chauvinism, by blocking the deployment of British Chinook helicopters which would have been invaluable to the relief effort. ....... Western donors, who are perceived to want to undermine the status of the dominant sections of society. ..... The donors were providing over $1bn a year to Nepal before the disaster, around 70 percent of it channelled through the government system. But, while the donors behave like they have all the answers, they've never been able to deliver on their rhetoric. ....... They are, in fact, as deeply entangled in the dysfunction, and as much a part of the mess as everyone else. The complete failure of the multimillion dollar "earthquake preparedness" schemes of recent years is only one obvious and topical example....... The government is seeking $10bn in reconstruction funds........ One major scheme of the past decade - designed to fund infrastructure construction - was called the Local Government and Community Development Programme. This delivered hundreds of millions of dollars through complex, donor-designed systems. In the absence of an elected local government, committees of unelected politicians called "All Party Mechanisms" misused vast sums intended for the poor, for the benefit of themselves and their cronies. There is once again talk of reviving All Party Mechanisms now. ....... One of the NPTF's programmes was intended to provide compensation to victims of Nepal's conflict. In practice, many genuine victims received nothing, while district-level politicians and administrators gave the money to local supporters. This is worth remembering now when it comes to earthquake victims. ......

Giving reconstruction funds directly to survivors could cut out a great deal of corruption and administrative waste, and give true meaning to the rhetoric of "transparency" and "empowering beneficiaries"