Nepal, the murky management of government resources for aid after earthquake

ROME - More than a month after the first earthquake that shook Nepal, hit by another devastating May 12 quake, the catastrophe of the small Himalayan republic has almost disappeared from the media. Yet the country is still on his knees. With many villages remain isolated, Kathmandu airport overwhelmed by the traffic generated by the aid coming in, thousands of people in need of assistance, shelter, clean water.The monsoons and questionable management of aid. And to make matters worse there ' just the threat of the arrival of the monsoon rains, but also a questionable management of the distribution of aid by local authorities. Who seem to prefer their own political interests (and economic) to the good of the people, raising accusations of nepotism and corruption. The resource mobilization. The machine for humanitarian aid is working, since April 25 the Nepalese government has officially asked the 'assistance of the UN and other international agencies. Thanks to its decade long presence in the country,UNICEF has been able to move quickly. Now mobilizing internal resources for $ 2 million and launching the distribution of 30 tons of aid already stored in Nepal, including tents to set up field hospitals. With the arrival of new stocks, to date the UN Fund for Children says it has reached more than 300 thousand people with drinking water, 45 thousand with one toilet, 3,000 malnourished children with boxes of therapeutic food. Yet the needs They remain enormous. They are 800,000 buildings damaged or destroyed, including 1,150 health facilities. Over 4.2 million people needing assistance for water and sanitation. And no need to provide care to patients abandoned hospitals.That the capital needs are largely satisfied: "In Kathmandu, thanks to international aid, the health system is responding fairly well," said Stefano Zannini, head of operations support of MSF Italy. The drama is still in the villages isolated. "The problem - adds Zannini MSF - it is outside the capital, where there are still isolated villages due dell'inagibilità of different roads.""Access remains an obstacle to the humanitarian response," says UNICEF.Less diplomatic was Bharat Jangam, Nepali anti-corruption activist who tells us: "Because of the weaknesses of the management by the government, relief supplies are not coming in remote areas, while areas accessible there are even surpluses." The race to anticipate the monsoon rains. Who is concentrating its efforts in remote villages is Doctors Without Borders. Which has so far collected five million euro for the emergency, of which 600 thousand from Italian donors. With the help of helicopters and, where possible, of trucks, has already conducted more than 3,000 medical consultations and distributed shelter kits to at least 10 thousand families. But also material for reconstruction as shovels and roof panels. "It's a race against time, because the monsoon rains are coming - says Zannini - which means it will increase the risk for a cholera epidemic, and logistical difficulties." The logistics of relief ballasted from the start. And not only from the streets of communications interrupted and the extraordinary elevation of the country. In part they are the same bonds imposed by the Nepalese authorities not to facilitate it. Despite the emergency is still under way, the government has just restored the normal system of customs duty that includes a fee of up to 50% of the value of the goods, including aid. "For us - say from MSF Italy - means an economic burden and an accumulation of delays in the distribution of the material because of a more lengthy process of customs clearance." The hands of the government on the flood of money and resources coming in. In addition, the government He asked the NGOs that have started operating in the country since April 25 to pass the donations they receive through the Disater Relief Fund , a fund directly controlled by the office of prime minister. Prime Minister Koirala has called " one-door policy , "which is a way to better control the flood of money coming in. But the operation still arouses some suspicion, considering the corruption endemic to Nepal, which appears in 126esimo out of 175 in the list of Transparency International. The administrative opacity crept in aid.Moreover, the lack of transparency of local politics seems to have crept even in aid management. "Political leaders, including the Minister of Finance, are intervening directly to hijack humanitarian efforts in their constituencies," says the activist Jangam, which together with the ' Anti-Corruption Movement Nepalcalls for the establishment of an Authority for disaster, independent and impartial. The Global Post reported that government officials have distributed $ 70 to the survivors, an operation that in a poor country like Nepal has been considered by some as a move-grabbing votes. Meanwhile, the National Human Rights Commision accused days ago the World Food Program to distribute, through the International Red Cross , rotten rice to survivors. The fact that the World Food Programme has vigorously denied. The policy cloudy away aid. The United Nations, on April 29, had launched a joint appeal for the humanitarian response to a value of $ 415 million. At present, however, they received only 15% of that amount. It is therefore questionable whether the distrust of the murky politics of Nepal is not in any way of having consequences on the ability of the UN to attract donations to help the "roof of the world" to rise to this critical emergency.