Cash in hand for quake victims

Money disbursement after a disaster has worked better in Jajarkot earthquake aftermath

Hasta Bahadur Kami. Photos: DURGA RANA MAGAR

In Chuiri village, Hasta Bahadur Kami, 62, stays on the roof of his damaged house to escape recent rains. He spends nights lighting fires and endures the scorching sun during the day on the roof of the same earthquake-damaged house. 

Kami lost his father and grandson who were trapped in the collapsing house.

He single-handedly struggled to clear the debris with his bare hands but could not get to them in time. Every structure in Chuiri succumbed to the quake's force.

 “Water can quench thirst, but a lost life can never be restored,” says a tearful Kami, his grief still raw more than two months after the quake on 3 November.

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With loans from relatives, aid from the community and Rs 15,000 from the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) he paid for their funerals. But he still has unpaid loans.

Similarly, Kali Pun, 73, from Pali village has survived on meagre provisions while caring for her grandson amidst the ruins of her house. The village council provided some food, but what helped at that crucial time was the WFP cash grant which she used to buy medicine for herself and process her grandson’s citizenship papers. 

Aid to earthquake survivors NT
Kali Pun.

Ganesh Pun, 58, lost 47 of his 50 goats in the earthquake. Today he sits listlessly in the sun, with no more goats left to graze and his source of livelihood gone. Pali was once known as a rich farming village, but the earthquake exacted a heavy toll on livestock.

According to the Ministry of Land Management, Agriculture, and Cooperatives of Karnali Province, 513 cows, goats, buffalos were killed. 

The Ministry Secretary, Narahari Prasad Ghimire, has submitted a proposal worth Rs9,974,000 to the cabinet for providing relief support to farmers affected by the earthquake.

Read also: Poverty killed a mother, not the quake, Marty Logan

The WFP grant may not seem like much compared to the scale of the loss, but at least it helped the farmers get through the emergency. Pun says the money was a significant help. “If we had more money, we could have bought goats,” he adds. 

Dambar Bahadur Rawat, Mayor of Nalgad Municipality says the immediate cash relief was helpful where there are markets. “People can buy necessary items themselves, practical cash support is viable,” he says.

Aid to earthquake survivors NT
Ganesh Pun.

According to Dhurba Bahadur Khadka, the spokesperson of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority, immediate cash relief can be effective in times of disaster. 

“For such multiple disaster-prone areas, two types of immediate relief can work, one for rescue and search-related equipment used during disasters and another for the immediate rescue needed during such times,” he says.

Read also: Jajarkot: One month after the earthquake, Ramu Kharel and Maggie Doyne

Khadka also notes that immediate aid should include essential medicine and food for children, pregnant women, and individuals with chronic illnesses. Additional food and tarps would be part of the second phase of assistance.

He says that in disaster-prone areas where market systems and geography allow, providing cash aid is better than material help because of the danger of duplication and wastage. 

“Transparency and a person's right and need to receive support make cash relief ideal,” Khadka says, noting that the municipality also provided rice, pulses, in relief. “Cash allows individuals to buy what they require.”

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