Rupak D Sharma, The Kathmandu Post, 12 Nov 2017
Nepal will need to fork out at least Rs73.2 billion to rebuild infrastructure and restore livelihood affected by the floods of mid-August, says a latest report prepared by the National Planning Commission (NPC), the apex body that frames the country’s development plans and policies.
The country was hit by severe floods from August 11 to 14. This was the third major disaster faced by the country following devastating earthquakes of 2015 and the trade embargo imposed by India, which continued till 2016.
The flood affected 35 of 77 districts, mostly in the southern plains. Of these districts, 18 were most affected and 1.7 million people were directly hit.
The floods caused damage of Rs60.7 billion to housing, health, education, agriculture, livestock, irrigation, transport, water and sanitation, and energy sectors in 18 worst-hit districts, says the Post-Flood Recovery Needs Assessment Report prepared by the NPC. The study was led by NPC Vice Chairman Swarnim Wagle with the support of representatives of the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme.
The biggest victim of the floods was the housing sector, which suffered damages of Rs19.5 billion, or 32 percent of the total loss inflicted by the disaster. This sector will need at least Rs39 billion to make complete recovery, says the NPC report. This amount is 53.3 percent of the total flood recovery needs.
The NPC had made the recovery needs assessment for the housing sector based on fund required to build houses under the Janata Aawas Karyakram, an affordable housing programme launched by the government. Under the housing programme, each house must be built on minimum space of 324 square feet for which Rs1,388 has to be spent per sq ft. This means the minimum housing cost in the country stands at around Rs450,000.
The floods completely damaged 41,000 houses and partially damaged 151,000 houses. This means each of the 41,000 houses that was completely damaged requires Rs450,000 for reconstruction. The NPC has proposed that a third of this amount be given for reconstruction of each house that was partially damaged.
It is not known whether the government will bear the entire cost of rebuilding houses that were destroyed and damaged by the disaster.
The August floods were triggered by heavy rain across the country. Some of the districts recorded heaviest rainfall in 60 years, which led to inundation of over 80 percent of land in the Tarai, the country’s breadbasket. This caused severe damage to irrigation, livestock and other agricultural sectors, with the irrigation sector reporting losses of Rs17.5 billion, or 29 percent of the total loss inflicted by the disaster. Floods also caused damage of Rs10.7 billion to the livestock sector, while “agricultural sector” suffered losses of Rs7.2 billion.
An expenditure of Rs17.8 billion must be made to revive the irrigation sector, according to the NPC report. The country also needs to spend another Rs6.4 billion to revive the agricultural sector and Rs2.3 billion to restore livestock sector in the districts badly affected by the floods, adds the report.
The government has already formed a special unit in the National Reconstruction Authority, which will implement recommendations made by the NPC’s report. The report has not only identified losses triggered by floods and funding needs for restoration of various sectors, but laid out a recovery strategy for all the sectors and made policy recommendations as well.
The report will be handed over by NPC Vice Chairman Wagle to Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, who is also the chairperson of the NPC, in the next two days. PM Deuba will then table the report in the Cabinet.