Pakistan vows to provide 25pc of Nepal`s earthquake shelter needs

By Khaleeq Kiani | 5/4/2015

BAKU (Azerbaijan): Pakistan pledged on Sunday to fulfill around 25 per cent of Nepal`s requirements of providing shelter to 300,000 people rendered homeless by the devastating earthquake as the mountainous country put its death toll beyond 7,000, and estimated up to $15 billion for rehabilitation and reconstruction.

At a function on the sidelines of the 48th meeting of the board of governors of Asian Development Bank, Finance Minister Ishaq Dar said that Pakistan had sent immediate relief goods, rescue teams and doctors to establish temporary hospitals soon after it came to know about the Nepal earthquake.

Responding to a question if Pakistan considered extending cash support to Nepal, he said the government of Pakistan was in the process of acquiring tents that could be the best support at this stage because it was not practically possible for Nepal to procure shelter material. He said Kathmandu needed around 100,000 tents at present and Pakistan was making arrangements to meet 25 per cent of it.

He said Pakistan would also contribute to rehabilitation and reconstruction needs after completion of the disaster need assessment (DNA).

Nepal`s Finance Minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat said around five million people had been affected by the earthquake, around one million of them directly who needed tents and food immediately. He said more than 7,000 people of the 30m nation had perished and the number could go up to 10,000 as most parts were not yet accessible while 15,000 people had been injured.

He said more than 300,000 households might need to be provided with low cost housing and the exact amount required for reconstruction and rehabilitation might go beyond $10-15 billion, but it was too early to estimate correctly.

Dr Mahat said Nepal had established $2bn fund for reconstruction with $200m seed money from domestic resources. He appreciated emergency support provided by both India and Pakistan for relief activities.

ADB president Takehiko Nakao said his institution had extended $3m emergency assistance to Nepal for immediate relief needs and would provide another $200m for reconstruction.

Indian secretary finance Rajiv Mehrishi said with an economy of $25bn, Nepal`s capacity for $1015bn recovery to reconstruction phase would need to be kept in mind and hence expertise and execution agencies might need to be provided by neighbours.

Mr Mahat said the massive earthquake had in fact caused incalculable losses, with millions of people rendered homeless, the scale of destruction of physical and social infrastructure being immense with hardly any school or health post intact in most affected districts. Access roads and vital public services have been obstructed. Landslides have strained already fragile mountain ecology and wounded world`s heritage sites.

He said while entire northern South Asia felt the shocks, the damage had been concentrated in central Nepal with 90 per cent of houses destroyed in some districts.

The loss, damage and destruction wrought by the earthquake have impacted the government and people of Nepal severely, destroying over 10,000 government buildings and damaging 13,000 others, straining state capacity to the full.

He said the vice president of Japan had promised to host a donors` conference soon to reach-out to the international community for grants and soft term loans for reconstruction and rehabilitation. He said Nepal needed $500 million in immediate humanitarian assistance for rescue and relief phase as monsoon season was approaching.

Published in Dawn