Nepali news today: first relief for 0.3% of earthquake homeless, and Banda!

The earthquakes of April 25 and May 12 last year completely destroyed over 500,000 houses in various parts of the country. Fourteen months on and 171,667 (32%) of these families will start to receive 200,000 rps (£1,333) per household to rebuild. However there are three problems to overcome: the mechanism is not fully in place for this money to be transferred, the amount is not enough to complete a house to the newly required earthquake-resistant standards (the experience of most NGOs is that double this is necessary), and the money will be delivered in three tranches, presumably for accountability, but further delaying the solution. The distribution process began on 13 March yet only 1% of the selected recipients have received their first instalment. For a second year it leaves so many families unprotected from monsoon season spending their days and nights in temporary shelters. (source: The Himalayan Fri 9 June 2016)

The free media in Nepal doesn’t hold back in its criticism of the leadership of the country. As a visitor it if not my place to do this. However, could we help to rebuild a few homes?

I observed a strange phenomenon yesterday: a Banda. When a Banda is announced people stay at home for there is no public transport, and you take to the streets in your own vehicle at your peril. It is not a strike but a protest. ‘Protest in Nepal is commonplace and for locals it is like a national holiday’ (The Himalayan, today). On this occasion it was a rival political party who caused an embargo of traffic not only across the city but the nation. Even though most presumably would prefer to make a living, get to work or college, or get their goods to market, to drive on the highways on a Banda day would invite terrorist action such as being petrol-bombed, stoned or attacked in some other way. A number of people fell foul to this yesterday losing their vehicle, or ending up in hospital with burns, and a number of ‘terrorists’ were apprehended by the police. It is estimated to cost the national economy $2billion rps (£13m) each Banda day, as well as delaying work schedules and development projects. However as a tourist it would be an ideal day on which to hire a bike or scooter to explore the city. As for me I walked an hour to try to locate a post box!

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