Even at the best of times Kathmandu feels chaotic. It’s part of it’s charm: the mix of ancient temples and cell phones, traditional saris and miniskirts, the scent of jasmine and sewage.
Now post-quake it’s just total confusion. Is it an optical illusion or is that building leaning at an odd angle now? How safe is it to enter? Given that there’s no running water toilet or cook stove in our tent how safe is it to stay out?. Exactly what are we meant to be doing now? Getting on with living life or just waiting for the next big shake?
It’s safe to say we are a city terrified. Just as we were picking up the pieces from the April 25 7.8 earthquake and its accompanying aftershocks, we were wracked by another 7.3 quake on May 12.
It was a lot less destructive in the Kathmandu valley, but the same cannot be said for the unfortunate areas in the district of Dolakha around the epicentre.
Since April 25, over 8,000 people have died and over 8 million have been affected – losing their homes, loved ones or places of work. In the worst hit districts, 90 per cent of all dwellings, leaving scenes of total annihilation.
Even at the best of times the government here is incompetent. In May 2008, Nepal became a federal republic after nine years and several failed attempts and missed deadlines the elected constituent assembly has still failed to write a constitution.
So it not so surprising that, to date, the brunt of the relief effort has been carried out by local NGOs, monasteries, and nunneries, concerned citizens groups and international agencies.
Now as the issue of rebuilding comes to the fore while the government has promised compensations for houses lost, and loved ones and 2 per cent loans for rebuilding, we are of course awaiting any kind of concrete conditions or system as to how this will happen.
One thing is clear: the role of NGOs, INGO and concerned citizens will remain vital to the country’s recovery.
With the monsoon season just around the corner it is impossible to start rebuilding, so the main goal is to build temporary shelters good enough to withstand the rains to protect the people, their crops and animals until the autumn. There is a huge scramble to buy tin sheets for roofing. These can later be reused where more permanent dwellings are rebuilt.
Thanks to the wonderful fundraising efforts of the Nenagh Nepal Earthquake Fund, funds have already been sent to contribute to the relief activities of local NGO Grassroots Movement in Nepal (GMIN). NNEF is now targeting funds for temporary dwellings and will continue to partner with GMIN and other small local NGOs.
It is hard to imagine the levels of poverty and deprivation so many people have now sunk to, or how long it will take for them to crawl out – at a moment like this, the people of Nepal truly need our help.
For details of the Nenagh Nepal Earthquake Fund visit www.facebook.com/NenaghNepalEarthquakeFund, or make a donation through Permanent TSB Pearse Street Nenagh; sort code: 990734; a/c 24254083.
- FIONNUALA DAFFY