News ID: 120970
Published: 0249 GMT June 27, 2015

Donors pledge over $4.4b to Nepal

Donors pledge over $4.4b to Nepal

Blessed with more than 4.4 billion dollars in pledges at an international donor conference in Kathmandu, the government of Nepal is expected to launch a massive reconstruction project to rebuild the earthquake-devastated South Asian nation.

But the pledges came with a caveat.

“While donors were generous, many of them strongly emphasized the need for Nepal to strengthen efficiency, transparency and accountability in handling international assistance,” Kul Chandra Gautam, a former deputy executive director of the UN children’s agency UNICEF, told IPS.

“They also emphasized the need for political stability, early local elections and speedy completion of the long pending Constitution drafting process,” said Gautam, a native of Nepal and a former UN assistant secretary-general, who is based in Kathmandu.

A jubilant finance minister, Ram Sharan Mahat, told reporters the donors’ meeting, titled the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction, was ‘a grand success’.

“The total pledge made today was 4.4 billion, which was more than expected… 2.2 billion in loans and 2.2 billion in grants,” he said.

India’s Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj pledged $1 billion while China promised 3 billion yuan ($483 million) in assistance.

Additional pledges included $600 million from the Asian Development Bank, $260 million from Japan, $130 million from the US, $100 million from the European Union and $58 million from Britain, supplementing an earlier offer of up to $500 million from the World Bank.

Nepal had a projected goal of $6.7 billion for the next phase of rehabilitation and reconstruction of the destroyed infrastructure and services.

This was a rather conservative or realistic needs assessment, considering that the estimated loss and damage from the earthquake was over $7 billion dollars, and it usually costs more to ‘build back better’  than just the replacement cost of the destroyed and damaged infrastructure, Gautam said.

It was understood, he pointed out, about one-third of the estimated needs would be met from national resources and two-thirds would come from donors.

Donors really opened their hearts for the suffering people of Nepal, he said.

We were delighted that even small poor countries like neighboring Bhutan and faraway Haiti were forthcoming with generous pledges of $1million each,” said Gautam.

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