The Chinese Ambassador to Nepal Yu Hong and UNDP’s Country Director in Nepal Renaud Meyer joined newly-elected representatives of local governments in Dhanusha and Mahottari in observing the ongoing distribution of post-flood recovery packages to affected communities with funding from the Chinese government.
“As a close neighbour, the government of the People’s Republic of China is pleased to be able to bring you this assistance to help you recover from the crisis,” Hong said, addressing the crowd of locals gathered at the distribution centre in Loharpatti Municipality in Dhanusha. “Immediately after the monsoon floods, China had provided $1 million in assistance to Nepal, and this time, in partnership with UNDP, we are providing $4 million for recovery. We will continue to support Nepal and its people in their hour of need in the days to come.”
Thanking the Chinese government for the grant, UNDP Country Director Meyer said that the recovery packages are expected to offer short-term relief to flood-hit households, and that UNDP hopes to further engage with local representative and governments to help realize the vision they have for the development of their areas. “We hope to soon explore with local governments some longer-term interventions on disaster preparedness and other local development priorities,” he added.
This was reiterated by Deputy Mayor of Loharpatti, Sarita Sharma, who, expressing her gratitude for the assistance, emphasized that there needed to be future efforts to help the municipality not just cope with recurring disasters but also prevent them in the first place.
The ambassador and the UNDP team also visited a few flood-affected areas in Dhanusha and Mahottari and interacted with locals as well as elected representatives. Several villages in Loharpatti had been inundated during the monsoon rains, wreaking havoc on the lives and livelihoods of the people therein, especially in the case of landless squatters.
The 2017 floods, said to be among the worst in the last 60 years, caused extensive damage and displacement in over 34 Terai districts—over 80 percent of land in the southern Terai region was under water. Government records show that 134 people lost their lives, and over 43,000 homes were destroyed and 192,000 others partially damaged, while tens of thousands were displaced. A post-flood assessment conducted by the Government of Nepal found that 1.7 million people were affected by the disaster.
It was in this context that the Chinese government partnered with UNDP Nepal to provide US$4 million to support recovery efforts. The assistance provided under the framework of the Chinese South South Cooperation Assistance Fund, will reach 31,800 households in Sunsari, Saptari, Sarlahi, Dhanusha, Mahottari, Rautahat and Parsa districts of Provinces 1 and 2.
“The floods in August swept away all our belongings….we had nothing,” says Naresh Malik from Rautahat. “The items in the recovery package have made it much easier to cope with that loss, and deal with the cold wave that we’ve been suffering for the past month.”
Echoing him is Sanishree Devi Mahara, a mother of seven from Dhanushadham who is ecstatic about the assistance, particularly the stove she’s received. “It cooks food much faster and uses much less firewood,” she says. “It’s just what we needed.”