Nepal’s policymakers have finally appointed a head to its earthquake reconstruction agency, paving the way for it to spend $4.1 billion pledged by foreign donors to help people rendered homeless by the disaster. Sushil Gyawali was reportedly appointed Friday as the CEO of the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA).
Gyawali, a civil engineer, is the executive director at Town Development Fund, an autonomous body under the Ministry of Physical Planning and Transport.
The NRA, formed to help Nepalese rebuild their homes, had come to a standstill after the incumbent government opposed the earlier government’s appointments at the agency. In addition, the legislation that originally created the NRA was allowed to lapse due to a change in governance.
The latest step by the government comes eight months after two devastating earthquakes in April and May left about 9,000 people dead and thousands homeless. International donors had pledged the amount at a conference in Nepal's capital Kathmandu on June 25.
Sherdhan Rai, minister for information and communication technology, told Reuters on Saturday that the NRA "will finalize the models for homes to be reconstructed and give financial assistance to people to rebuild their homes."
He also said that the agency "will be responsible to rebuild schools, hospitals, monuments, roads and office buildings in five years."
According to Oxfam America, an estimated 850,000 homes were destroyed and tens of thousands of people are still living in basic shelters built from bamboo and corrugated metal, which are not fit for freezing winter conditions.
“The reconstruction work has been very sluggish. People somehow survived the monsoon but they will soon be facing the challenge of the winter,” Jagannath Kurmi, chairman of the National Network of Community based Disaster Management Committees, warned in October.