One year after a deadly earthquake struck Nepal, the prime minister announced the country is rebuilding some of the damaged heritage sites. They include temples, monuments and a UNESCO heritage site.
On April 25, 2015, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake killed 9,000 people and damaged hundreds of historic structures. Nepali officials have said fully rebuilding the country’s architectural heritage and the 600,000 homes destroyed by the quake will take years. But this week Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Oli announced the government will start.
Monday the prime minister offered prayers at an ancient Buddhist temple, one of the hundreds of structures damaged by the quake.
Memorial services for those who died were held Sunday. Protesters also demonstrated against the slow speed of the recovery efforts in the South Asian country.
In a White House statement, National Security Council spokesperson Ned Prince expressed condolences for the lives lost in the quake. He also acknowledged that "much of the hard work of rebuilding Nepal still lies ahead."
"We are humbled by those who risked their lives to save others, including the six United States Marines who perished in Nepal while providing relief to Nepalis in need," he said.
Other nations are also sending money to help the rebuilding efforts.
Monday, the New York-based World Monuments Fund announced donations totaling $1 million for five historic sites.
But, while international donors have promised $4.1 billion towards Nepal's recovery, only $1.3 billion has reached the country. Critics blame the government for taking months to set up the National Reconstruction Authority.
The slow movement to rebuild has left many people living in sub-standard temporary shelters. The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies estimates that four million people are still in these temporary homes.
The homeless have been promised about $2,000 in aid. However, only several hundred people have received the first $500 installment.
Mike Bruce is a spokesman for the non-governmental group Plan International. He spoke to VOA via Skype from Nepal’s capital of Kathmandu. Bruce said the Nepali government has not been slow to rebuild – it has simply faced challenges in the past year.
Bruce added that homes and heritage sites were not the only things destroyed by the powerful quake. He said over 30,000 classrooms were damaged or destroyed.
Plan International aims to rebuild 20 schools and repair 16,000 of those classrooms. Bruce said the classrooms will be both accessible to those injured in the quake, and better able to withstand any future quakes.
According to reports by VOA's Tibetan Service, Tibetan villages along Nepal's border, which were also destroyed by that same quake, have yet to be rebuilt. Many of an estimated 100,000 displaced Tibetans remain without homes to return to.
Last week, Tibet Radio, a Chinese official Tibetan language news service, said a senior official recently visited the displaced Tibetans. He told them that quake reconstruction is a top priority in 2016.
It is not clear whether the construction will focus on rebuilding damaged homes or simply moving displaced Tibetans into new towns, as Beijing has done before.
I’m Anne Ball.
Words in This Story
heritage – n. traditions, achievements, buildings, beliefs that are part of a group or nation
architectural – adj. to describe method or style of a building, how it is built
condolences –n. expression of sympathy when someone dies
sub-standard – adj. below what is considered good
installment – n. one in a series of payments until something is paid for