After the earthquake

Material Information

After the earthquake Relations between the international community and the Nepali government have rarely been worse than they are now
Added title page title:
Relations between the international community and the Nepali government have rarely been worse than they are now
Bell, Thomas, fl. 1978 ( Author, Primary )
Place of Publication:
The Kathmandu Post
Publication Date:
Copyright Date:
© 2015, Kantipur Digital Corp


Subjects / Keywords:
Rescue and relief ( SWAY )
Disaster relief ( LCSH )
Rescues ( LCSH )
उद्धार तथा राहत ( SWAY )
Humanitarianism ( SWAY )
Humanitarianism ( LCSH )
मानवतावाद ( SWAY )
International relations ( SWAY )
International relations ( LCSH )
अन्तर्राष्ट्रिय सम्बन्ध ( SWAY )
Newspaper op-ed ( SWAY )
Temporal Coverage:
20150425 - 20150514
Spatial Coverage:
Asia -- Nepal
28 x 84


General Note:
Published in: The Kathmandu Post (© 2015, Kathmandu Post) --
General Note:
VIAF (name authority) : Al Jazeera (Television network) : URI
General Note:
एशिया -- नेपाल
General Note:
Asie -- Népal

Record Information

Source Institution:
SOAS University of London
Rights Management:
© 2015, Kathmandu Post
Resource Identifier:
SP150515A1 ( SWAY )


This item has the following downloads:

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After the earthquake - Oped - The Kathmandu Post

/ /d€^tion.€

PRINT EDITION-2015-05-15 (PRINTEDITION/2015-05-15) | OPED

After the earthquake

Relations between the international community and the Nepali government have rarely been worse than they are now

- Thomas Bell (/printedition/author/thomas+bell}

May 14, 2015-The succession of earthquakes which
continues to rock Nepal has created ahumauitarian
crisis of comparable scale to the country's 10-year civil
war, compressedinto the space of less than three weeks.

The first earthquake, on April 25, killed over 8,000
people, injured over 18,000, and destroyed hundreds of
thousands of homes. Perhaps a million people were
rendered homeless. Due to the remoteness of the terrain
and the inadequacy of the response, these figures were
still incomplete, or mere estimates, when a second
major earthquake struck on May 12.

The second quake toppled already weakened buildings,
triggered a series of landslides further hampering relief
efforts, and is presumed to have extended the disaster
area further to the east. There were instant reports of
deaths and injuries - the full extent of the second
catastrophe will take some time to be known.

International hubris and national pride

millions of people in Nepal. There have in fact been cases of suicide in the aftermath.

An almost unbearable situation currently exists for

Any government, as well as the disaster response capabilities of the international community, would always struggle to respond to such devastation in such an
inaccessible landscape. Tragically, the response has been—and remains—shambolic and grossly mismanaged. It risks adding a man-made calamity to a natural

Relations between the Nepali government, including the powerful army, and the international community were marked by mutual suspicion before the
earthquake. Foreign donors, who contribute around $lbnto Nepal every year, had become increasingly distrustful of government corruption and its ability to
deliver services, although several of them were still increasing their contributions.

The government, meanwhile, felt undermined by the donors' intermittent emphasis on the "inclusion" of marginalised social groups, and support for the
prosecution of alleged human rights offenders. This stoked an essentially defensive nationalist chauvinism in some quarters.

When the first earthquake struck, both parties were found wanting.

Years of joint planning and preparation for an event that everyone knew would come collapsed as quickly and completely as the weakest building. The result
was a slow and inadequate relief effort which has—over two weeks later—still failed to reach many of the affected people.

There was not enough transport capability, especially helicopters, and there were serious bottlenecks at the airport. Major delays were caused by bureaucratic
confusion and there was bitter mutual recrimination—both in public and private—over who was to blame and who should be in control of resources.

Relations between the international community and the Nepali government have rarely been worse than they are now, yet urgent cooperation has never been
more essential.

Work together now, work it all out later

Three British Chinook heavy-lift helicopters had been waiting for days in Delhi for permission to fly to Nepal, which has still not been granted. Then, on the eve
of the second earthquake, Nepal's army held a press conference, rejecting further foreign military assistance.

"We don't need them now," the army spokesman said. A further American contingent, which the US ambassador had just announced, would also not be
allowed to come.

http: / /kathmandupos t. ekantipur. com/ printedition/ news /2015-05-14M ter- the- earthquake. htm 1


02/08/2017 After the earthquake - Oped - The Kathmandu Post

The government claimed that relief operations were now nearly complete, and all survivors will have shelter before the impending monsoon season. Yet,
according to home ministry figures only 122,000 tarpaulins and 2,000 tents have been distributed, along with almost 2 million kilogrammes of rice.

If—on a conservative estimate—half a million people need feeding, and if that aid has been distributed equally, they've received 4 kilos each in two weeks.

This was all before the disaster was compounded and expanded by the second quake.

The situation is shocking, but less so for close observers of Nepal,

For the international community to suddenly rediscover the well-known weaknesses of the Nepali government, and overreact to them now, helps no one. The
internationals must recognise their own less than impressive

record, and that there is no alternative but to work with Nepal's legitimate and democratically elected government. To attempt to work around it would be
disastrous for the country's stability, even if it were possible.

The government is undoubtedly struggling with various political and administrative challenges, including those arising from having numerous militaries
operating within its borders, in what is a geopolitically sensitive region between India and China.

It also has an established duty under international guidelines such as the Sphere Principles and the UN guidelines on internally displaced persons to accept
urgently needed humanitarian aid during a crisis.

From relief to reconstruction

During a relief operation it is normal for numerous national and international agencies to be in the field delivering supplies. This is less of a threat to the
government than the risk of their people not receiving the relief they need.

After relief will come reconstruction. Hundreds of thousands of homes must be rebuilt, as well as public infrastructure. It is quite proper that the government
would insist that this effort is run under its auspices. It is also the duty of the international community to insist that mechanisms be put in place which allow
them to account for how their money is spent. Too often in Nepal there has been

no such transparency in the use of donor funds.

That will be a time to think about how long-term programmes and relationships can be run better than they were before. Now, in the fast closing window
before the monsoon, is the time to throw open the doors to as much relief as possible.

Bell has reported on Nepal for over a decade. His new book of history and reportage is 'Kathmandu'.

— © A1 Jazeera

Published: 15-05-2015 08:32 [ |

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