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Relief agencies told to finish up winter aid work in Nepal

Kathmandu (UCAN): The government of Nepal told international relief agencies to finish up their winter relief aid work by January 10, saying that support to affected areas had not met expectations.

Nepal was devastated by a magnitude 7.8 earthquake that rocked the country on 25 April 2015.

“To help the affected households in remote areas, as many as 34 organisations had expressed their interest in the winterisation programme,” Rameshwar Dangal, chief of the Disaster Management Division under the Ministry of Home Affairs, said at a January 3 meeting.

“However, only 24 organisations have been active and though they targeted to reach 200,000 households, winter relief packages have been provided to only 90,726 households so far,” Dangal said.

With the start of winter, media reports of people dying from cold due to inadequate shelter and clothing, have led to criticism of both the government and international non-government organisations.

Dangal said that the government started questioning the activities of some aid providers after many of them failed to report their work to the district-level local authorities.

However, Raina Clark-Gaun, grants manager for Catholic Relief Services Nepal, pointed out that approvals for distribution were only granted in mid-December and that teams had since been working around the clock while trying to meet required protocols. Nevertheless, she said that “at specific levels (the government) have been very collaborative.”

Caritas Nepal and Catholic Relief Services Nepal have been working in Gorkha and Dhading districts to provide winter relief aid and cash to 7,231 households.

“The major concern of the government was the slow pace of the relief efforts by some organizations to help affected families deal with the cold conditions. Still, some remote and mountainous districts have no access to the winter relief packages,” Gopal Dahal, emergency response manager at the Lutheran World Federation, said.

He said that his organisation has already submitted its progress update of its disaster relief work through November to the government.

Prerana Marasini, from Oxfam, said the winter relief work of the UK-based organisation in seven of the worst-affected districts would not be completed within the time set by the government.

A lack of fuel in the country has been a major obstacle in getting to those in need, she said.

Oxfam has been providing thermal mats, blankets, hot water bottles and cash vouchers for winter clothing, worth 17,000 rupees ($1,240) to each household in Lalitpur, Bhaktapur, Kathmandu, Sindhupalchok, Dhading, Gorkha and Nuwakot districts.

Marasini said that Oxfam submitted its financial breakdown and progress reports of their respective projects to the government on December 30.

Rita Dhakal, head of humanitarian response at DanChurchAid, said the government has been asking various organisations for financial and progress details on relief work projects—including winter relief efforts.

Dhakal, who also heads an international non-government organisation disaster management task force, said, “There has been discussion among international nongovernmental organisation partners to submit the reports by mid-January to the government.” 

The Nepali government said it has released six billion rupees ($388 million) to help the victims with winter relief packages in 23 of the most-affected districts. 

The government has been providing 10,000 rupees ($726) to each household to buy warm clothes and blankets. The government has also stated that it would complete its winter relief package effort to the targeted 600,000 households by the end of the first week of January.


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