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1 million people pushed below poverty line by Nepal earthquake: Report

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Powerful earthquake hits Nepal

Kathmandu: A national crisis caused by the April 25 earthquake and its aftermath has pushed an estimated one million people below poverty line, a Nepal government report has revealed.

Presenting the findings of the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) report on Saturday, National Planning Commission Vice-chairman Govinda Raj Pokharel said it was estimated that the poverty-level would go up by more than 2.5-3.5 percent.

As per the Human Development Report (2014), the poverty prevalence in Nepal is 23.8 percent.

The 7.9 magnitude earthquake on April 25 rocked as many as 36 of the 75 Nepali districts and among them 14 are worst hit where 8,800 people were killed, thousands injured and an estimated one million residents displaced.

The devastating quake and aftershocks damaged assets and properties valued at $5.13 billion (Nepalese Rs.513 billion), and the loss in terms of foreign earnings in different sectors is to the tune of $1.88 billion, the report said.

The PDNA states that Nepal needs an estimated $6.66 billion, or nearly one-third of the country’s Gross Domestic Product.

The report will be tabled before the donor community at an international conference on June 25 here to collect resources for the rebuilding and reconstruction efforts.

Over the last three decades, Nepal had been registering fast improvement on the Human Development Index.

“The earthquake has affected agriculture, education, water and sanitation, and health, the crucial elements of human development. These people will turn poor because of loss of houses; income-generating opportunities; productive assets such as seeds and livestock; and durable assets such as assorted household items ranging from basic kitchen utensils to jewellery,” the report said.

“This has exposed the pitfall of the poverty reduction drive launched by the government — ‘The high degree of vulnerability’,” says a World Bank report, which was extended to the National Planning Commission to supplement the Post Disaster Needs Assessment.

The districts ravaged by the earthquake are not the poorest in the country.

Around 26.5 per cent of the population residing in quake-affected rural areas are categorised as poor. This figure is equivalent to national poverty rate.

On the other hand, only 9.7 per cent of the population living in quake-affected urban areas live below the poverty line. Nepal’s poverty rate stood at 24.8 per cent in 2013.

It means that around a quarter of the population in that year was living on less than $1.25 a day. But if the international poverty line of $1.25 a day was raised to $2 a day at that time, 57.3 percent of the population would have been categorised as poor.

“What this means is that a large proportion of Nepali households are just a sickness, a bad monsoon or natural disaster away from slipping back into poverty,” says the World Bank report.

Considering this, the earthquake will end up pushing 700,000 to 982,000 people (2.5 to 3.5 per cent of the population) into poverty in 2015-16, the report added.

According to the report, of the people who fall back into poverty, roughly 50 to 70 per cent are likely to hail from rural central hills and mountains where overall vulnerability was very high prior to the earthquake.

“The earthquake is likely to have obliterated all these livelihood channels, particularly for those with limited access to other forms of assets and credit markets,” it says.

Also, the need to rebuild their own houses is likely to keep many away from the labour market, leading to slowdown in non-farm activities. (IANS)

 

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9 Climbers Pulled From Snow After A Sudden Storm On Mount Gurja, Nepal

Mountaineering experts are questioning how the experienced team was so badly hit at their base camp at 3,500 meters.

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Mount Gurja
Tourists take pictures at Sarangkot in Pokhara, with the view of the Mount Annapurna range in the background, some 200 km (124 miles) west of Kathmandu, Nov. 30, 2008. Annapurna, at 8,091 meters high, is the 10th highest mountain in the world.. VOA

A rescue team Sunday began retrieving the bodies of nine climbers killed in a violent storm on Nepal’s Mount Gurja, a freak accident that has left the mountaineering community reeling.

A helicopter dropped four mountain guides at the camp where the South Korean climbing expedition was staying when powerful winds and snow swept through, killing the entire team and scattering their bodies as far as 500 meters (yards) away.

“All nine bodies have been found and the team are in the process of bringing them down,” said Siddartha Gurung, a chopper pilot who is coordinating the retrieval mission.

Mount Gurja
A helicopter dropped four mountain guides at the camp.

A second helicopter along with a team of rescue specialists and villagers were also involved in the mission, which has been hampered by strong winds as well as the camp’s remoteness in the Dhaulagiri mountain range of Nepal’s Annapurna region.

The bodies of the climbers, five South Koreans and four Nepalis, will be flown to Pokhara, a tourist hub that serves as a gateway to the Annapurna region, and then to Kathmandu, said Yogesh Sapkota of Simrik Air, a helicopter company involved in the effort.

‘Like a bomb went off’

The expedition’s camp was destroyed by the powerful storm, which hit the area late Thursday or Friday, flattening all the tents and leaving a tangled mess of tarpaulin and broken polls.

“Base camp looks like a bomb went off,” said Dan Richards of Global Rescue, a U.S.-based emergency assistance group that will be helping with the retrieval effort.

Mount Gurja
Wangchu Sherpa of Trekking Camp Nepal, organised the expedition

The expedition was led by experienced South Korean climber Kim Chang-ho, who has climbed the world’s 14 highest mountains without using supplemental oxygen.

Experts puzzled

Mountaineering experts are questioning how the experienced team was so badly hit at their base camp at 3,500 meters.

Also Read: Nepal Saves Its Tiger Population, Doubles It

“At this point we don’t understand how this happened. You don’t usually get those sorts of extreme winds at that altitude and base camps are normally chosen because they are safe places,” Richards said.

The team had been on 7,193-meter (23,599-foot) Mount Gurja since early October, hoping to scale the rarely climbed mountain via a new route. (VOA)