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Speech Transcripts

June 25, 2015

Presentation at the Technical Session, International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction: ICNR

Soaltee Crown Plaza, Kathmandu, Nepal

Honorable Dr. Shankar Sharma

Honorable Prof. Dr. Govinda Nepal, Member of the National Planning Commission

Honorable Dr. Swarnim Wagle, Member of the National Planning Commission

Mr. Yasumasa Nagamine, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Government of Japan

Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

On behalf of the Japan International Cooperation Agency, JICA, I am honored to be here today to deliver the presentation as part of the technical session of the International Conference on Nepal's Reconstruction 2015.

First and foremost, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to all the people who have lost loved ones, friends and colleagues to the earthquakes that shook Nepal on April 25th and May 12th.

I would also like to commend the Government of Nepal for its leadership in finalizing the Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA) and organizing this conference in a very short period of time. This assessment addresses the social and economic impacts of the earthquakes from the community level to the national level. I believe this assessment will be a strong basis for the Government of Nepal to lead the country's reconstruction efforts.

As we heard in this morning's session, international partners have reaffirmed their commitment to support Nepal's efforts to further strengthen its resilience and its capacity at all levels so as to withstand future disasters and recover from them. I believe that the time has come for us to act upon these discussions and to act on them together.

As State Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Kiuchi announced this morning, Japan will provide a comprehensive assistance package to Nepal, ranging from reconstruction planning to financing for housing in rural areas and schools, totaling USD 260 million. JICA, as the implementing agency of Japan's Official Development Assistance, will execute this assistance together with the Government and people of Nepal.

On May 25th, just over a month after the first earthquake struck, JICA and the Government of Nepal co-hosted the "Build Back Better Seminar" here in Kathmandu. During that seminar, JICA drew from Japan's experience and shared the importance of incorporating the concept of "Build Back Better" into reconstruction planning to rebuild a more disaster resilient society. Indeed, the post-disaster period is an opportunity to reassess a country's vulnerabilities and offers a chance to take proactive measures to improve building and planning practices. As you all know, this concept of "Build Back Better" has become one of the four priority areas of the "Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030)," a guiding agreement for disaster risk reduction adopted by UN member countries in Sendai, Japan, last March. During last month's seminar, JICA also stressed the importance of ensuring a seamless transition from humanitarian assistance to rehabilitation, reconstruction and development. We are committed to supporting the Government of Nepal in incorporating these concepts into action.

Today, I would like to share with you two examples of JICA's assistance in Nepal that illustrate how we simultaneously put into practice the two key concepts of "Build Back Better" (BBB) and "seamless transition."

First, JICA will assist the Government of Nepal in developing reconstruction master plans for three cities, namely Katmandu, Gorkha, and Shindhupalchok. As part of efforts to ensure that there will be a seamless transition between the recovery and reconstruction phases, we had sent reconstruction experts to assess the damage and start discussions with the Government of the Nepal on reconstruction efforts even as rescue teams were still on the ground in early May. Based on the damage assessment conducted in the aftermath of the two earthquakes, our seismologists highlighted that there is still pent-up seismic pressure in the region near Kathmandu and remote areas. As such, we agreed to create master plans that incorporate the BBB concept for not just Gorkha and Shindhupalchok, two cities that have been severely damaged by the earthquake, but also for Kathmandu. To make the nation more resilient, we must protect the nation's capital from potential future damages given both its vulnerability to future shocks and its central role in managing the reconstruction process for the entire country. As demonstrated in this example, both concepts, BBB and seamless transition, are interlinked and are equally important in working towards long-term recovery.

The second example that shows how we incorporate these two key concepts is the assistance we are providing in the housing sector. The PDNA revealed that of all sectors, the housing sector is the most severely damaged. About three-fifth of the damage nationwide is concentrated in the housing sector, and this sector accounts for about 50% of all of the country's reconstruction needs. I believe that addressing the early housing reconstruction needs is one of the most pressing priorities. This is not only due to the great damage that the sector suffered, but also because temporary shelters will not protect residents from harsh winter conditions, particularly in rural areas.

JICA is taking a three-stage approach to reconstruction in the housing sector. First, we are providing assistance by applying an innovative method of transforming temporary shelters into permanent, earthquake-resistant housing structures that make use of locally available materials. This "Shelter to Permanent" house building method (STP method) uses locally available stone bricks, steel pipes, and so on. We have constructed a model house just outside this hotel for you to see. We believe this model is one of the fastest, safest and most effective ways to rebuild houses in a disaster-resilient manner. The houses built using the STP method can be referred to as "Ganjo Houses," with Ganjo meaning strong and resilient in Japanese. Second, we will thoroughly examine the suitability of various house building methods, including the STP method. We will assess whether they are appropriate given local geological conditions, consider the availability of construction materials and evaluate the logistical capacity in the earthquake affected areas. Building on these efforts, we would like to support the Nepali government to establish new anti-seismic standards that all buildings would abide by and disseminate effective construction methods to meet such standards. Thirdly, as Mr. Nagamine mentioned, in terms of mid- to long-term support, JICA will provide concessional loans alongside the World Bank to finance the reconstruction of housing that that can draw on the lessons learned from the model house experiment. This three-stage approach is designed to ensure that we are supporting the Nepalese people in a seamless manner and in a way that also helps build more resilience in the affected areas.

Finally, in addition to the concepts of BBB and the seamless approach, we will make our support "inclusive." That means that the fruits of reconstruction will be shared amongst all members of society, leaving no one behind. According to the PDNA, about 26% of the damaged houses belong to female headed households, 41% to Dalits and indigenous communities, and 23% to senior citizens. People with disabilities and the elderly may not have the means or ability to support home reconstruction. To ensure that the benefit of the reconstruction be reaped by all, we will work with the government to include vulnerable populations in the planning stage so that their views and suggestions can be incorporated.

Now, I would like to introduce Mr. Takeya, JICA expert on disaster management, to further elaborate upon technical inputs needed to address urban and rural challenges.

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