Clock ticking in Nepal as monsoon closes in

May 20, 2015

photo: Laxmi Prasad Ngakhusi / UNDP Nepal.

Struggling rural communities risk being cut off by rains

Kathmandu – With the annual monsoon rains a month away, Nepalese communities already devastated following two recent major earthquakes are now facing a new challenge – isolation from desperately-needed aid and assistance to restore and rebuild their homes and livelihoods.

“The monsoon is just four weeks away, and will bring with it a high possibility of increased landslides, making it extremely difficult – if not impossible – to bring timely relief aid and recovery support to communities in rural areas,” said Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Bureau for Policy and Programme Support. “These areas are in dire need. 85-90 percent of houses have been destroyed or are unsafe.”

Speaking at the end of a five-day visit to the country, Martínez-Solimán saw first hand, the levels of destruction caused by the earthquakes in a country that was fragile and vulnerable even before the disaster. “The fallen houses and heaps of rubble are like a war zone”, he said.

The coming monsoon, Martínez-Solimán added, risked a secondary disaster for the many Nepalese living in remote, inaccessible communities in this rugged, mountainous country. “We have just one month to get them enough food to last three months. There is a high possibility the roads will become completely impassable.”

Martínez-Solimán’s visit, involving meetings with the Nepalese Government, international development partners and affected communities, is part of UNDP’s push to hash out a robust recovery plan for the country that protects and restores infrastructure, services and livelihoods, even as immediate efforts to meet people’s most basic needs continue.

As the lead UN agency on disaster recovery, UNDP works in crisis situations to minimize the longer-term impacts on affected communities, whether caused by natural disasters or manmade conflict. In Nepal, the imminent onset of the monsoon underscores the urgency and necessity of this approach in a vulnerable and fragile country under-prepared for mulitple shocks.  

“UNDP bridges the gap between the humanitarian response and longer term work to protect and restore livelihoods, infrastructure and essential services,” said Martínez-Solimán. “The onset of the monsoon has sounded an alarm. We must act now.”

Contact information

Sangita Khadka, Communications Specialist, Bureau for Policy and Programme Support, New York, sangita.khadka@undp.org Cell: +1 917 530 8980

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