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Posted at: Jul 8, 2018, 12:40 AM; last updated: Jul 8, 2018, 12:40 AM (IST)

Rebuilding... brick by brick

Nepal is still trying to recover from the large-scale destruction caused by a massive earthquake three years ago
Rebuilding... brick by brick
Work in progress: Slowly but steadily, the country has been reconstructing its damaged structures. AFP

Ishrat S Banwait recently in Kathmandu

Three years ago, a massive earthquake hit Nepal. While we have pretty much forgotten about it, the people of Nepal cannot. They are still trying to recover from the after-effects of the devastation. The 7.9 magnitude earthquake affected eight million people and left nearly 9,000 dead.

The natural disaster gave a serious blow to the Nepalese economy that was on an upward swing in the last decade. The country lost half its GDP; the overall damage was estimated to be $10b while the country’s GDP was around $19.2b. 

Nepal, which houses the world’s highest mountain peak, is still rebuilding itself. The roads are under construction, and so are the schools. Many houses, however, are not being reconstructed because people living in those houses are unable to afford rebuilding them.

The tourism industry, which accounted for nearly eight per cent of the country’s economy, was the worst affected. The earthquake not only destroyed important monuments and structures but also affected many natural tourist attractions. The historical cities of Lalitpur and Bhaktapur lost many important structures in their ‘darbar square’. 

The rebuilding work, even after more than three years, is still on. A visit to these two cities is enough to show how hard Nepal took the hit and also how well the Nepalese took it.

Besides the many natural tourist attractions that were affected due to the earthquake, adventure sports, which had been a major attraction for the tourists, were lost permanently. A major damage that Nepal received in adventure sports has been to rafting. The regular rafting experience for a tourist in the Bhotekoshi river is not as exciting as earlier. The rafting companies tell tales of the rafting experience pre-2015 that was enjoyed by international tourists who had done the same in many other countries. However, with a shorter route now, the experience isn’t the same.

Tourism, nevertheless, is recovering with the number of international tourists gathering momentum. After the earthquake, a lot of rebuilding has been centered around the tourism industry. Kathmandu, Pokhara and Nagarkot, besides the historical towns, have been developed.

While many countries, including India, helped Nepal financially after the destruction, its neighbour China and Japan are going an extra mile. Japan has taken upon itself to rebuild the historical structures in the darbar square in Bhaktapur. China has set up industrial units in Nepal to make the country more service-oriented. Even with a high rate of unemployment, Nepal faces shortage of labour, which is impacting this Chinese effort. The country, known for poor infrastructure, is also receiving lot of technical assistance from China, which is helping Nepal build dams and bridges.


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