Rebuilding a More Resilient Nepal: Key recommendations for reconstruction and recovery | Food Security | Social Inequality

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The April 2015 earthquake devastated Nepal, affecting more than eight million people. Nepalis have shown remarkable resilience in the face of the disaster, and six months on people are rebuilding their homes, their lives and their country. Reconstruction provides an opportunity to build back better and create a stronger, more equal country that is more able to cope with crises. However, this opportunity is being missed, leaving Nepal vulnerable to future shocks and disasters. This briefing paper considers the successes and challenges of the response so far, and looks at what must be done to ensure that Nepal recovers in a way which makes it more resilient and more equitable.
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  208 OXFAM BRIEFING PAPER 29 OCTOBER 2015 www.oxfam.org  Indramaya Shrestha searches for belongings in the remains of her home which was destroyed when the earthquake struck Nepal in April, killing Indramaya’s brother-in-law and leaving the family homeless. Photo: Aubrey Wade/Oxfam REBUILDING A MORE RESILIENT NEPAL Key recommendations for reconstruction and recovery The April earthquake devastated Nepal, affecting more than eight million people. Nepalis have shown remarkable resilience in the face of the disaster, and six months on people are rebuilding their homes, their lives and their country. Reconstruction provides an opportunity to build back better and create a stronger, more equal country that is more able to cope with crises. However, this opportunity is being missed, leaving Nepal vulnerable to future shocks and disasters.  2 CONTENTS 1 INTRODUCTION ............................................................................... 6 2 PRINCIPLES FOR SUSTAINABLE RECONSTRUCTION ................ 8 2.1 Equality and inclusion ............................................................... 8 2.2 Community-led reconstruction .................................................. 9 2.3 Transparency and accountability ............................................ 10 3 SHELTER, SETTLEMENTS AND LAND RIGHTS .......................... 12 3.1 Financial support .................................................................... 13 3.2 Legal support .......................................................................... 14 3.3 Temporary settlements ........................................................... 15 3.4 Build back better ..................................................................... 16 3.5 Winterisation ........................................................................... 18 3.6 Recommendations: ................................................................ 19 4 FOOD SECURITY AND LIVELIHOODS ......................................... 20 4.1 Agriculture recovery ............................................................... 20 4.2 Women and livelihoods .......................................................... 21 4.3 Recommendations ................................................................. 23 5 GENDER EQUALITY AND INCLUSION ......................................... 24 5.1 Citizenship and victim ID cards .............................................. 24 5.2 Land ownership and property rights ....................................... 25 5.3 Women-headed households and single women .................... 26 5.4 Gender-based violence .......................................................... 26 5.5 Recommendations ................................................................. 27 6 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS ............................... 28   3 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY On 25 April 2015 at 11.56am local time, an earthquake of magnitude 7.6 struck Nepal. The country had not faced a disaster of comparable size for over 80 years. 1  A third of the population was affected, with almost 9,000 people killed, more than 22,000 injured and nearly 900,000 houses destroyed or damaged. Six months since the earthquake, people are starting to rebuild and recover their lives. This paper considers the successes and challenges of the response so far, and looks at what must be done to ensure that Nepal recovers in a way which makes it more resilient and more equitable. The humanitarian response by the Government of Nepal and others has been largely successful. More than 79 percent of affected people in the 14 most affected districts have been provided with combinations of emergency shelter, food, household kits, blankets and other non-food items. 2  Everyone identified as being in need of support has received at least one kind. As efforts move towards reconstruction, the government and other humanitarian actors should maximize the opportunities this creates to ‘build back better’. However, these opportunities are not being realized. Despite being established a month after the earthquake, the National Reconstruction Authority, along with its reconstruction plans, remains in limbo. But people cannot wait for plans and processes and many have started to rebuild their homes and their lives. At the same time, nearly 59,000 people remain in more than 120 temporary settlements, some of which are due to close in October 2015. 3  Delays in finalizing reconstruction plans mean people are unprepared for winter.  At least 81,000 households are in need of durable shelter and additional support to cope with the climate. Families living in temporary shelters which do not afford good protection could face severe cold. Cultural inequalities existed in Nepal long before the earthquake. The disaster has thrown these inequalities into sharp relief. For example, a high number of households have lost both the male head of the household and their houses, and yet only 19 percent of women have shared ownership of their homes. 4 Female land ownership is also very low in Nepal, at just 28 percent before the earthquake. Although laws were passed in 2007 which allow shared ownership with husbands, women often haven’t taken up the opportunity for joint registration and so lack documentation to prove links to the land. Without this documentation, they are also unable to access relief and support. Reconstruction provides an opportunity to address this gender inequality and build back in a way that will enhance women’s rights. For example, as houses are rebuilt, further promotion of shared ownership registration would increase the number of women owners. ‘The earthquake made us homeless and jobless. We are in constant fear of being homeless again. We built a small house a year ago on a relative’s land. But the earthquake destroyed it. All that’s left is the remains of our house and the debt we took on to construct it.’ Ganga Parajuli, Nagarkot, 2015. Oxfam interview. ‘We somehow survived the monsoon [in temporary shelter after the earthquake] but we can’t endure the winter if we do not get warm clothes and blankets. A house is the topmost priority for me. If I have one, I will at least feel safe.’ Kali Bayalkoti, Lalitpur, 2015. Oxfam interview.  4 Box 1: The story of Kamala Khadka Kamala Khadka from Dolakha is landless. She works for a landowner in his fields and was provided with a house on his land, but this was destroyed in the earthquake. Kamala’s husband bought some corrugated iron sheets to construct a temporary shelter on the landowner’s land. She has been unable to obtain any assistance from the government, including the initial Rs15,000 payment due to victims, because she doesn’t own land and has no documentation. She says, ‘ We have not received any support. The government discriminates against us because we are landless. We are landless, but we are also victims .’ The government, together with its development partners, must seize the opportunities presented by earthquake reconstruction to build a more equal and resilient Nepal. Urgent recommendations For Parliament: ã   Reinstate the National Reconstruction Authority through the passing of the Reconstruction Bill, with all the powers and regulations that it was srcinally provided with. This is probably the most urgent task as it is needed to rebuild momentum in the reconstruction process, to build confidence among donors and implementing partners and, most importantly, to ensure that affected communities receive the information and support they are entitled to. For national government, district authorities and implementing partners: ã   Provide people in temporary settlements with appropriate shelter materials – before the camps close. Decisions on temporary settlements need to be clearly communicated to people living in them, and alternative arrangements made so that when they return to their land they are able to remain there. ã   Provide targeted support for landless and marginalized groups.  A plan which focuses on landless and marginalized people, including women, needs to be urgently developed because temporary shelter cannot legally be provided to people without land. Public land should be used to provide homes for landless people who have nowhere else to live. ã   Provide further support to households that will remain in temporary housing over the winter,  targeted at those most at risk from severe weather. This should include provisions such as blankets, mattresses, fuel and stoves, as well as adequate livestock shelter and grain storage so that food security is not undermined. ã   Communicate earthquake-resistant designs so households can build back safer. The government should urgently and clearly communicate the appropriate models and materials for earthquake-resistant houses, and how and when funding can be accessed.
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