New Grant to Rebuild Schools, Provide Micro Loans after Nepal Earthquake

Damaged school building in Sindhupalchowk.
Damaged school building in Sindhupalchowk.

By Kenichi Yokoyama

We hope to restore school enrollment rates, return household incomes to pre-quake levels, and teach village development committees how to cope with disaster risks.

As the mercury dips fast in the mountains of Nepal, I cannot help but feel sad for the survivors of the 25 April earthquake and its major aftershock on 12 May – still many are having to fend for themselves in the cold in their temporary shelters.

But today I am glad to have taken a step further to help in the recovery process. Today I signed on behalf of the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) a grant agreement with the Government of Nepal to rebuild schools, provide micro loans to help restore livelihoods, and to boost awareness of disasters in the 14 districts most severely affected by the quake.

This $15 million grant adds to the $3 million disaster response grant ADB approved on 27 May and a $200 million emergency loan approved on 24 June.

With this new grant, we want to restore the school enrollment rates of girls and boys in the primary and the secondary levels to the pre-earthquake level—98% at the primary and 67% at the secondary level—by 2018. Similarly, we want to restore the average real annual household income of the affected communities to at least the pre-disaster level of NRs125,000 within three years. Finally, we would like to see at least 80% of the selected village development committees boost their understanding of and ability to cope with disaster risks.

Why are we doing what we are doing?

First, rebuilding schools. The catastrophic earthquake damaged 8,000 public schools in 31 districts, rendering over 25,000 classrooms useless and another 22,100 partially damaged. This has brought about a fall in the enrollment rates and attendance, and caused an increase in out-of-school children. This grant can only rebuild or retrofit 14 public schools in the severely affected districts. But, these schools will work as models for the vicinity or adjoining districts to emulate—disaster-resilient and equipped with all modern amenities—with more learning space, furniture, and education materials. We want the model schools to inspire students, parents, and teachers as Nepal’s future schools with quality education.

Second, restoring livelihoods. The earthquake affected the livelihoods of about 2.3 million households and 5.6 million workers across 31 districts, resulting in the loss of 94 million workdays and NRs17 billion of personal income in fiscal year 2015. We want to provide at least 12,500 households with micro-credit so that they can restore their livelihoods and climb out of poverty.  

Third, building capacities of the affected communities. With this grant, we want to raise awareness of people of disasters and preparedness. Communities will get a thorough knowledge of disaster risks in their areas and have a plan handy to implement right away when they strike.

It’s important that we get these earthquake recovery initiatives going, for the cost of further delay will be grave; children who drop-out may never return to school and those pushed into poverty may well become permanently poor. JFPR’s aim is to help the most affected and disadvantaged, yet dedicated and willing to rebuild their livelihoods and secure children’s education.

Please watch this space as I intend to regularly blog on how ADB is trying to make a difference in the lives of the least fortunate in Nepal.