Days after the 7.8-magnitude earthquake devastated Nepal, the government launched the Prime Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund and announced that monetary contributions in support of earthquake relief efforts should be deposited to the fund. The circular was retroactive as well, which meant aid money deposited to the accounts of different relief organizations on the ground will be transferred to the disaster relief fund.
Not surprisingly, this announcement drew criticism from international aid donors and nongovernmental organizations, which feared the move was an attempt by Nepal’s ruling party to have control over aid disbursement. Worse, there was concern that the money would be diverted for political considerations.
But the government has actually been centralizing aid funds for nearly a decade now, Orla Fagan, regional public information and advocacy officer at the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, told Devex in Nepal. She dismissed concerns that funding might be diverted for other purposes, noting that aid has gone out in the past and it “will continue to go out.”
“This has been part of the government’s operations since 2006, and it will continue to be,” she added. “It’s also a way for them to know where the aid is going and who’s receiving the aid.”
In the days following the announcement, Nepalese media sought to shed more light on the disaster relief fund. The circular only applies to NGOs that were set up solely for the earthquake response. Registered NGOs and community-based organizations that have been working in Nepal for quite some time will not be affected by the directive.
It is important to allay such concerns as Nepal urgently needs relief and reconstruction support.
“Before this earthquake,” Fagan noted, “Nepal was moving toward becoming a middle-income country. It was going to take another 10 to 15 years. This earthquake has set them back somewhat.”
The U.N. official urged the international community to help Nepal get back on its feet and back on its path toward becoming a more developed country.
Nepal has “amazing potential. It would be great to see it getting back to where it was so it can continue moving forward,” she concluded.
Watch the video above to see an excerpt of our conversation with Fagan.
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