If Laxman Thakur can, why can’t Chitwan? Why can’t Jhapa? Why can’t you?

When I was reading the news of Laxman Thakur in Annapurna Post about how he is planning to give refuge to some 500 people in his home town, I was so filled with emotion first and wanted to know whether his mother tongue is Maithili or Bhojpuri, I even tried to translate some ‘nice’ words into Maithili to say thank you and to tell him how proud I was of him. I know he might be better than me in Nepali, but I wanted to be Laxman Thakur, I wanted to say thank you to him in the language he learnt from his mother. After a while I couldn’t stop thinking about the news. I had different ideas in my mind. I suddenly started to think, if he can convince his villagers to accommodate some 500 people what about the rich and developed districts like Chitwan? If the village is reachable by good conditioned road, if there is no risk of landslide or further damage, if the family is healthy and hasn’t got vulnerable member they should remain where they are and government must help them in their place. We are strong people and we can rebuild. But, if the village is at risk of landslide, people are vulnerable, people are traumatised, there is no road and difficult to reach then they should be relocated temporarily or permanently. There can be three different ways to accommodate people in dire need: 1. People can take shelter in the houses of the relatives or the generous ones like Laxman Thakur. This will be basically temporary shelter during monsoon. The people will return to their place or find work and move out in maximum 6 months’ time. The people who have lost homes and nowhere to stay and also there is risk of landslide or other problem in their place can take shelter in such Home Stay. The aid agencies or government should help the accommodating family with the food and other aid. The accommodating family should be selected carefully. The EQ victims should not be accommodated with the family whose member has records such as child sex abuse or other criminal or suspicious record. This can be tracked with the help of local police or local community leaders, head teachers etc.  The government and local authority should appeal the people of the nation to help and if interested accommodate people in their homes for six months or so. 2. The local authorities of unaffected districts like Chitwan can provide permanent or temporary accommodation to the people of need. Temporary shelters should be for the similar people the same as earlier mentioned and they will be back to their places of find job and move out after maximum 1 year time.  The shelter can be tents or government suggest temporary shelter of tin or other local materials. It is important that water, sanitation, security and other basic things are provided in these temporary shelters. The Local authority should be careful that these places should not turn into slum in future. The failure of the central government to rebuild the EQ victims’ village/town can result in long stay in these settlements and turn the place into slum. So the very careful, clever and determined effort plus sound co-operation between the Central government and local authority is crucial.  Permanent settlement should also be provided by the local authority of unaffected areas where Earthquake Victims (EQ) are unable to return to their place because of risk such as landslide or trauma or some other genuine reason.  If every unaffected district take their share of responsibility the problem will be solved much faster and effectively. While settling the EQ victims the local authority must respect the local people’s concerns. It is wise that the integration process is started from the beginning and the security and the health of both the EQ victims and local people is not compromised. Cultural, religious and ecological issues should be considered before selecting the area for settlement. The early involvement of local community organizations and community leaders, use of local volunteer will help building harmony and good relationship with the EQ victims settling in their neighbourhood. Nepalese are known as friendly people, so if there is good management there won’t be issue in integration. 3. Government should rent the houses in the unaffected and developed regions to provide immediate shelter to the vulnerable EQ victims like pregnant women, children, elderly, disabled, sick and injured. They should be able to live with their family in the rented property and government should provide the rent, food and other aid. This will help people recover from the trauma and also their family will be with them. The other family member should be encouraged to find work, or the NGOs or Aid Agencies’ focus should be training them in construction and other sector rather than buying them bottle of mineral water.