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Nepal Hasn't Spent Any of the Billions Donated To Recover From Devastating Quakes

The government has admitted it's been slow to start reconstruction after the earthquakes in April and May that killed close to 9,000 and left thousands of buildings destroyed and damaged.

by VICE News
Sep 2 2015, 5:49pm

Una mujer nepalí, Kanchi Maya, se encuentra en frente de su casa destruida por el terremoto, en su camino para el tratamiento de acupuntura en Bhaktapur, Nepal, 28 August 2015. Photo by Narendra Shrestha/EPA

The Nepalese government has admitted it has been slow to start rebuilding and assisting citizens four months after one of the worst natural disasters to ever hit the South Asian nation killed nearly 9,000 people, and left nearly 10 percent of the population in desperate need of shelter, food, and other necessities.

The chief executive officer of Nepal's newly created National Reconstruction Authority, Govind Raj Pokharel, admitted that the country has yet to even arrange to receive the $4.1 billion international aid agencies and countries pledged to Nepal two months ago.

"The government's response has been slow. I accept that," Pokharel told Reuters. He cited delays in planning approval amid concerns about beginning reconstruction around the monsoon period as reasons why the money had not yet been spent. Pokharel added that the aid would likely not be put to use until October or later.

Following the twin earthquakes that hit Nepal in April and May, Nepalis were critical of the government's slow dispersal of aid despite the extreme need, especially in more remote parts of the country. Tens of thousands are still housed in makeshift shelters and tents months later.

Related: In Photos: Deadly Tremor Hits Nepal Just Weeks After Devastating Earthquake

The remnants of the quakes are still visible in parts of the country, where rubble lies strewn across streets and partially collapsed buildings still stand in the nation's capital of Kathmandu.

"We have lost everything. We are desperate," one resident Maili Pariyar, 50, said outside her tent. "How much longer do we have to wait for help?"

Pokharel also said delays had been caused after the government tried to introduce a new constitution that divides the country into new administrative regions. The move prompted protests from the Madhesi community and other ethnic groups concerned about marginalization and the dilution of political power. The protests resulted in deadly clashes with police and the death of at least 20 people. Supporters of the new constitution say it will bring more long-term stability to Nepal by consolidating efforts to bring Maoist rebels into the mainstream political process following a violent insurgency lasting a decade.

"We would have liked it if they concentrated on the reconstruction first," Pokharel said. "That would have been better."

Related: In Photos: Funeral Pyres, Anger, and Slow Recovery in Nepal

Reuters contributed to this article.

Watch Vice News' documentary aboutof Nepal's earthquake in Nepal Earthquake Dispatch: