One year since the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, people in the worst hit hilly districts of the country are still living in makeshift shacks.
Multiple reports point at the abysmally slow pace of rehabilitation. Following the earthquake, Nepal's politicians decided to turn their attention to getting out the new Constitution, nine years in the making. Soon after its promulgation, it triggered protests in the southern region of Terai. These protests brought on a shortage of medicines, cooking gas and fuel, making a bad situation worse.
The video above, Natural Event, Manmade Disaster, put up by Kathmandu-based magazine Himal Southasian, takes a critical look at the rehabilitation nine months after the quake. Put out in February when it was still winter, the video shows, for instance, villagers of Falame village complaining of the paltry sums they were given to build houses and buy warm clothes. In Kathmandu, we can see buildings balanced on slanting wooden poles holding up homes in the narrow lanes of the capital.
Told largely through the Nepali Times editor Kunda Dixit, the video says it's not so much the earthquake as the government’s apathy and poor policies policies that are responsible for the deaths. The bare-brick, congested infrastructure of Kathmandu increases the potential for damage that the country’s geographic vulnerability to earthquakes can cause.
Far too little progress has been made since February. Most reports marking one year since the quake point at the little that has been achieved in districts like Gorkha and Sindhupalchowk.
Despite the international support, rehabilitation languishes. A BBC report on the present situation says that instead of anger, there is a feeling of “hopeless resignation”. And that "virtually none of the 800,000 buildings it is reckoned the quake destroyed have been rebuilt."
What would happen not if, but when an earthquake struck were discussed long before last year's quake. Despite this there was no preparation for such a situation. Among the worst fears was that Kathmandu’s airport, the only international one in the country, would be rendered useless in the event of an earthquake, making relief work possible only through roads, which are slow and treacherous.
Thankfully, that did not happen. But the airport was damaged by the influx of flights delivering aid, and had to briefly close itself to large planes.
International agencies and foreign countries have pledged $4.1 billion as aid to Nepal. That money has still not been put to use, according to a report in the Kathmandu Post. The reconstruction authority set up by the government has only just started working. At the present rate it will take a long time to rebuild the 800,000 homes, and the monsoon is in the offing.
Below is a video of people holding a candlelight vigil to mark the anniversary of the quake.