On April 25, 2015, Nepal was hit by an earthquake with a magnitude of 7.8 on the Richter scale, the most destructive to hit the country in over a century. A second quake, with a magnitude of 7.3, struck the country on May 12, 2015. Official figures reported approximately 9,000 deaths, more than 20,000 wounded, around 3,000,000 made homeless, and almost 8 million people in need of aid in 39 of the country’s 75 districts.
Nepal is a landlocked Himalayan country, located between China (Autonomous Region of Tibet) and India. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a human development index that places it 157th out of 187 countries. Nepal has been caught in constitutional political instability since 1951, which led to a civil war from 1996 to 2006 and has paralyzed the country. Poverty is a factor, which increases vulnerability in the case of an earthquake. Other factors include deforestation since it increases the risk of landslides, and infrastructure that is far from shock proof. Moreover, the destruction of places of worship and mountaineering bases in this Everest region has been a heavy blow to an economy based largely on tourism.
However, some people in Nepal have characterized this disaster as a blessing in disguise, as it brought about a number of social and political changes in the nation: traditionally separated castes came closer together in their moment of need; political classes joined forces to pen a new constitution for the country; the most stricken showed high reactivity, solidarity and resilience; and state actors visited affected areas where they rarely touched base.
Rebuilding a country after a natural disaster is a long process that can last anywhere from 5 to 10 years. In Nepal, the start of the process was delayed due to protracted political negotiations around establishing and appointing the person in charge of the National Reconstruction Authority. This important state coordinating authority, in charge of overseeing and funding reconstruction efforts, only came into being nine months after the disaster in January 2016.
In addition, since September 24, 2015, Nepal has been facing a severe shortage of essential commodities (medication, food, gasoline, etc.). Protesters from the Madhesi ethnic minority have been blocking crossings at the border with India to protest the new Constitution. They are expressing their disagreement with the new borders of the federated regions, which have resulted in their political under-representation in Parliament. This situation has led to concerns on the humanitarian front and has spawned an informal economy. Agreements between the government and the United Nations have, at the least, enabled the allocation of priority resources for ongoing aid operations.
STATISTICS ABOUT NEPAL