Gorkha [Nepal], September 18 (ANI): Radha Ramtel, once a mason during the Nepal Housing Reconstruction Project in Gorkha district, now feels empowered as the project funded by the Indian Government and undertaken by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) helped her to earn and learn everything about masonry.
"I learned about home construction during the drive for nearly a year. I earned some money that helped me to address my family's economic needs. However, it is the skills that I learned that has made me more empowered. I am now continuing the work," Ramtel said.
"Now I can participate in other construction works. Previously I use to feel inferior to male colleagues but now I can give them suggestions or even point out their mistakes at the time of building infrastructures," she added.
Ramtel worked along with eight other women who became involved in construction work after attending the training provided by the UNDP Nepal which has undertaken the Nepal Housing Reconstruction Project funded by Government of India in 2019.
The devastating earthquake of 2015 that shook the Himalayan Nation of Nepal claimed nearly 10,000 lives, injuring thousands and displacing over half-a-million people. The mountainous district of Gorkha was the epicentre.
Hundreds of families were forced to sleep under the open sky or in a temporary settlement. As a large number of houses were to be built in a short span of time due to the upcoming rainy season followed by winter, the reconstruction drive was at a slow pace.
The available human resource for reconstruction was semi-skilled and technically there were a lot of flaws in their work but the training provided under the Nepal Housing Reconstruction Project fortified helped them to correct their weaknesses.
Though the number of men in construction works in Gorkha District still outnumbers women but it has created an employment opportunity for the locals here.
The number of women enthusiasts for the reconstruction drive in Gorkha has increased. The local body earlier had issued a notice inviting application for the training which encouraged women's like Radha Ramtel.
Ramtel's husband is in driving business. He has supported her in getting into the construction work like her mother-in-law, thus, defying the patriarchal mindset that is deep-rooted in mostly rural areas of Nepal.
"Earlier, I had to rely on my husband for every small expense but now I can incur it on my own. Now, I can make earthquake-resistant model houses, take care of children and also manage the house expenses on my own," Radha further added.
After the earthquake of 2015, the reconstruction drive kick-started in the Himalayan nation which was bearing a loss amounting to NPR 706 billion, equivalent to USD 7 billion. Though there was a scarcity of manpower for reconstruction, the women's participation in the bid came became a boon in the situation.
The Indian Government-supported construction of 50,000 houses in Gorkha (26912 beneficiaries) and Nuwakot (23088 beneficiaries) districts of Nepal. India appointed UNDP and UNOPS (United Nations Office for Project Services) as socio-technical facilitation consultants for Gorkha and Nuwakot district respectively in March 2018.
The reconstruction drive initiated by India with UNDP's consultation in Gorkha district has brought happiness to all.
The Indian Government had committed USD 1 billion for the reconstruction of Nepal in the form of grant and Line of Credit. USD 150 million was allocated for reconstruction in the housing sector, USD 100 million as grant and USD 50 million to be drawn from Line of Credit. (ANI)