Monday, May 02, 2016

EARTHQUAKES - Nepal, the Reconstruction Blockage

"How politics got in the way of needed Nepal earthquake relief" PBS NewsHour 4/25/2016


SUMMARY:  One year ago, the first of two massive earthquakes ripped through Nepal, killing more than 8,000 people.  Some $4 billion of assistance was pledged to the rebuilding effort, but political gridlock and corruption have left the displaced survivors to largely fend for themselves.  Special correspondent Fred de Sam Lazaro reports in partnership with the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO (NewsHour):  Kathmandu still bears scars from the quakes, but many people in Nepal's bustling capital have pushed the rubble aside and started rebuilding their homes and lives.

That's not possible in the quake's worst-hit regions, villages high up in the rugged Himalayan landscape, places that were hard to reach even before the disasters struck.  Most people here were displaced into makeshift camps miles away in valleys miles away.

On April 25, 2015, the village of Mailung literally slid out of existence; 38 people died instantly as boulders rained down from the mountainside.  Five bodies have never been recovered from under them.

Parma Singh Tamang ran a grocery store and tailoring business in this abandoned community once home to 400 people.  The remnants from his shops peek out from under tons of granite.  Two daughters-in-law and two grandchildren perished here.  Others in the large extended family that lived here barely escaped.

PARMA SINGH TAMANG, Displaced Resident (through interpreter):  When they heard the loud rumbling, they were very confused and ran down by the river.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO:  Down the street is the spot where Selnam Tamang lived.  She wasn't home on that fateful day.  She was visiting her mother, leaving her four children with her in-laws and eldest child, Asmita.

SELNAM TAMANG, Displace Resident (through interpreter):  Her grandfather was cooking fish, and all the family was gathered in the main floor area, but Asmita didn't like fish, so she climbed to the second floor of the house.

Then, suddenly, the earthquake came, and the whole house fell, and she was thrown some distance away.  But the whole family, they were crushed.

FRED DE SAM LAZARO:  Including two younger daughters and infant son.  She did manage to rescue their pictures.

I'm really sorry.

Their current situation stokes the despair.  Most people in the camp say they have no money and have received little assistance to rebuild.  Selnam Tamang scrapes by on about $3 a day as a daily laborer, working about 10 days each month.  And conditions in the metal-roofed shacks are not healthy, says 12-year-old Asmita, who is learning English.

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