June 26, 2015
Yesterday, Nepal received 4.4 billion dollars of pledges at the international conference held in Kathmandu – two-thirds of the estimated amount ($6.7 billion) needed over five years for reconstruction. Half of the money pledged is in the form of grants and the rest is in the form of “concessional loans”, according to Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat.
Even before the April and May earthquakes, Nepal was one of the poorest countries in the world, ranking 145th out of 187 countries on the United Nations development index. The quakes killed more than 8,600 people and destroyed over 500,000 homes, 8,000 schools, 1,1023 health centers and pushed 700,000 more people into poverty. One in four of Nepal’s 28 million people lives on a daily income of less than $1.25.
Delegates representing 53 nations, donor agencies and development partners attended yesterday’s conference.
The biggest pledge came from Nepal’s southern neighbor, India, which offered $1 billion in grants and low-interest loans. “Nepal and India are joined in both their joys and sorrows. Therefore, we need to closely coordinate our disaster response, and help each other in the wake of such calamities,” Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his country would provide $483 million.
Asian Development Bank (ADB) President Takehiko Nakao pledged $600 million.
“ADB will make the best use of its long-term experience in rehabilitation and reconstruction work after serious disasters,” he said. ADB is a major donor for Nepal and has supported several development projects in the past.
Japan said it would give $260 million.
Some reports say the United States has pledged $130 million. But US Ambassador to Nepal Peter Bodde is quoted as having announced $200 funding.
The British government’s response to the earthquakes now stands at $109,000,000.
The World Bank had already announced $500 million for Nepal, prior to the conference. Its aid will consist of $200 million for housing reconstruction in poor rural areas and another $100 million for the government's budget and to strengthen the banking system. The bank said an additional $100-200 million will be redirected from existing World Bank projects in Nepal and invested in reconstruction efforts.