Landless quake victims missing out as Nepal rebuilds, Oxfam says

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 22, 2016 9:06 AM

By Matthew Ponsford

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - A year after the deadly earthquake in Nepal, thousands of people, especially women, are being deprived of funds to rebuild because they do not own land or cannot prove they owned the land where they lived, Oxfam said on Friday.

Nepal's government requires proof of ownership, but many victims have lost documents and others did not formally own the land where they lived, said a report by the international anti-poverty organization.

The government this month began distributing grants of 200,000 Nepali rupees ($1,900) to families that can prove they owned land before the earthquake, which struck on April 25, 2015.

The quake killed some 9,000 people, injured more than 22,000 others and damaged or destroyed more than 900,000 houses.

"Families who are landless and who were living on unregistered land are very much uncertain about the future and support that the government had promised," said Prabin Man Singh, research and policy coordinator for Oxfam, who co-authored the report.

"Those families are the poorest and the most vulnerable among the victims."

Some 3 million people are living in temporary shelters with tarpaulin roofs ahead of Nepal's monsoon season, according to Save the Children, CARE International and other agencies.

Land tenure is largely undocumented in Nepal, and data is limited and contradictory, the Oxfam report said.

It cited one pre-quake government report that said as many as 480,000 families, or 9 percent of the population, did not have access to land, and another report that said a third of Nepal's farmers did not own the land they cultivated.

The United Nations has said a quarter of Nepalese households - about 1.3 million - did not have any land or enough land to support families.

But Oxfam said that in post-earthquake surveys, more than 90 percent of people claimed to own their own land before the disaster.

As reconstruction plans are instituted, Oxfam said women are often excluded because they "are less likely to inherit land, have land registered in their name or obtain documentation to prove their entitlement."

Under Nepal's constitution adopted last September, women have equal rights to own land. But inheritance laws have kept the ownership numbers low.

Donors pledged $4.1 billion for reconstruction after the earthquake, but aid groups have criticized the slow pace of government reconstruction efforts.

(Reporting by Matthew Ponsford, editing by Ellen Wulfhorst. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women's rights, traficking, property rights and climate change. Visit http://news.trust.org)