30 October - 5 November 2015 #781

Race against winter

GOPEN RAI
HOME FIRE: Six months after the earthquake destroyed her house in Sindhupalchok, Monika Tamang, 13, is still homeless and cooks a meal with firewood inside a tattered tent at a shelter. The fuel crisis caused by the Indian blockade has added to the misery of earthquake survivors like her.

The fuel crisis caused by India’s blockade has brought to a halt most reconstruction of earthquake damaged buildings and infrastructure. Already delayed due to political wrangling over the Reconstruction Authority, nearly two million survivors across 14 districts now face an uncertain future as winter looms.

The CEO appointed to head that agency, Govinda Raj Pokhrel, has also resigned from the National Planning Commission because of turf battles between the NC and the UML over the post. The $4.4 billion pledged by the international community for reconstruction cannot be spent until the agency is functional.

Humanitarian groups were trying to fill the gap, but their reconstruction and relief work is now halted due to the lack of diesel. Emergency food supplies and shelter need to be delivered to far-flung mountain villages before the snows come.

The agreement between Nepal and China to meet up to a third of Nepal’s petroleum needs is unlikely to ease the crisis. India is only allowing 10 per cent of Nepal’s fuel requirement through the border.

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