More reports on: Environment

Nepal quakes push a million below poverty line

15 June 2015

The devastating earthquake and aftershocks that hit Nepal since 25 April that killed nearly 10,000 people and left a trail of destruction across the country has also pushed a million people below the poverty line.

"The earthquakes have pushed 982,000 more people back into poverty due to the loss of assets and income generating opportunities," according to a report by Nepal's National Planning Commission.

Losses to the economy from Nepal's worst disaster on record stand at nearly $7 billion, including from tourism, the government said in a Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report.

The draft report, prepared by the NPC working with some 250 Nepali and international experts, which will be given final shape soon, has put the needs at nearly one-third of the country's gross domestic product.

The draft PDNA, divides the damage assessment into 21 sectors. The greatest damage is in housing and human settlements, with damage estimated at Rs330 billion.

Damage to education and tourism is estimated at Rs2,800 crore and Rs1,800 crore, respectively.

NPC handed over the PDNA draft report to Prime Minister Sushil Koirala on Friday.

The report will be tabled before the donor community at an international donors' conference in Katmandu on 25 June to collect resources for the post-quake rebuilding and reconstruction.

The government is also planning to form a high-level implementation agency for the reconstruction work. Nepal is also planning to establish Rs20,000 crore fund for reconstruction

Officials of Nepal's finance ministry said 36 countries and 24 donor agencies had been invited to the 25 June conference to pledge support for reconstruction.

"We have expectations of a very handsome and good support from our donors during the conference," Sharma said at a function in Kathmandu.

Currently, Nepal gets two-thirds of the cost of its economic development in international aid.

Government officials said some donors who cannot pledge more aid could still help Nepal by writing off debt the country owes or delaying repayment schedules. Nepal does not have commercial borrowings from international lending agencies.

Concessional loans mainly from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank account for 18 per cent of Nepal's gross domestic product, according to the officials. The government spends $300 million in debt repayment every year.

Nepal's annual economic growth is expected to slow down to 3.04 per cent, the lowest in eight years, from 4.6 per cent estimated earlier, according to its statistics bureau, due to the impact of the earthquakes on tourism and infrastructure.

One in every four Nepalis lives on a daily income of less than $1.25. The number of poor in the country has gone up by 700,000 to 7.78 million, according to Govind Raj Pokharel, vice chairman of the National Planning Commission.

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