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April 30, 2015

What’s next for Nepal’s earthquake recovery?


Nepal is struggling to recover after a 7.8-magnitude earthquake left thousands dead and wiped out much of the country’s roads, bridges and buildings.

The earthquake killed at least 5,500 and left many families without food, water or shelter. The damage is especially bad in the Himalayan foothills, where shockwaves had the force of 20 thermonuclear weapons, according to seismologists.

The full extent of the damage is still unknown, and some areas have not yet seen any aid, according to Jonathan Miller, a journalist with Independent Television News.

“They have all heard promises from their government, but four days after the earthquake, nothing at all has arrived,” he said.

Nepal’s unclear political situation will make it difficult to rebuild, according to Jonah Blank, an anthropologist at the RAND Corporation. For much of its history, Nepal was the world’s only Hindu monarchy. The country fell into civil war in 1996. The civil war ended in 2006 with the creation of a Maoist government, which was in turn defeated in the 2013 elections. Corruption is rampant in Nepal, Blank said.

Nepal is also one of the world’s poorest countries. The economy heavily depends on Nepalese people who work in other countries and send money home. Some of those people have returned to the country to help rebuild, which will limit that income. And Nepal lacks the financial resources to build earthquake-proof homes and businesses, Blank said.

Warm up questions
  1. What causes earthquakes?
  2. How do cities prepare for earthquakes?
Critical thinking questions
  1. What resources are needed for international organizations to distribute aid in hard-to-reach areas? How can they obtain those resources?
  2. What challenges does Nepal face during its recovery? How will the recovery process affect its economy?
  3. If the Nepalese government is known for its corruption, how can the international community help the Nepalese people?
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