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Speech at the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction 2015 - Takehiko Nakao

Speech | 25 June 2015

Speech by Mr. Takehiko Nakao, President of the Asian Development Bank at the International Conference on Nepal’s Reconstruction 2015 on 25 June 2015 in Kathmandu, Nepal (as drafted).

Right Honorable Prime Minister Sushil Koirala,
Your Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I would like to express ADB’s deepest sympathy to the people of Nepal. The earthquake last April was by far the worst natural disaster in Nepal’s recent history.

The Nepali people, the government, and the international community immediately stepped in to help. On the occasion of ADB’s Annual Meeting in Baku, Azerbaijan around one week after the earthquake, ADB hosted the Nepal Partnership Forum co-chaired by Finance Minister Mahat which  affirmed international support. 

Affected families showed tremendous resilience by initiating rebuilding efforts on their own despite their heavy suffering. Many people also volunteered to deliver relief goods to remote villages, crossing difficult terrain. It is heartening to see the Nepali people’s self-help spirit and solidarity. I am sure that the nation will be rebuilt, and will be stronger as a result. 

But the remaining challenges are immense. We must consider the sheer magnitude of the damages and suffering, the remoteness of the affected areas, and the monsoon already setting in. Today’s conference is very timely. 

The government has shown strong leadership in planning the reconstruction efforts. It led  the post-disaster needs assessments along with donors, is drafting a rehabilitation and reconstruction policy, and is establishing a special agency for reconstruction. 

For our part, just yesterday, ADB’s Board approved $200 million in Earthquake Emergency Assistance, to rebuild and restore schools, roads, and public buildings. We are partnering with the Japan International Cooperation Agency and other donors to augment our support. In addition, ADB is providing $50 million in budget support and grant assistance. 

For the subsequent phase of reconstruction, we are also ready to allocate up to $350 million from the existing ADB loan portfolio to high-priority rehabilitation activities. This will not affect our ongoing and planned development programs. 

All in all, the total assistance from ADB for rebuilding Nepal after the earthquake will reach $600 million. ADB will make best use of its long-term experiences of rehabilitation and reconstruction work after serious disasters such as Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines and after the tsunami in Sumatra, Indonesia.

I would like to take this opportunity to highlight 5 principles for reconstruction. 

The first is “Building Back Better’. Buildings should be rebuilt to earthquake- resistant standards. Our assistance will include more resilient school buildings and education for disaster preparedness to provide a better and more secure future for children.

The second principle is inclusiveness. In our reconstruction efforts, we will pay special attention to the needs of the poor, rural residents, and other vulnerable social groups, who have suffered more from the earthquakes. 

The third principle is the importance of a robust institutional setup for reconstruction. As I have mentioned, the government is establishing a special purpose agency for reconstruction. This will facilitate swift decision- making in the budget process, implementation, and coordination. It goes without saying that strong leadership is important for the success of the new agency. 

The fourth principle is about capacity and governance. ADB will work closely with the government to help build strong institutional capacity, and to ensure sound governance and fiduciary risk management systems for the reconstruction process. 

The fifth principle is donor coordination and government ownership. This conference is a testament to the resolve of the government and the international community to work in a coordinated and harmonized manner to plan and implement reconstruction of the affected areas. 

Mr. Chair, I visited Nepal just last February and was impressed by the people’s hospitality, the country’s rich and diverse culture and heritage, and its tremendous development potential in areas such as agribusiness, tourism, and small and medium enterprises. I was also encouraged by the government’s commitment to its long-term vision for prosperity. 

Moving forward, I truly believe that Nepal will emerge stronger from this catastrophe and continue along the path of inclusive and sustainable growth. Hard-won gains made before the earthquake in poverty reduction, private sector-based growth, and political stability should not be compromised by this tragedy. Reconstruction should go hand-in-hand with development programs already planned. 

The international community stands together with the people and government of Nepal at this challenging time. 

Thank you very much.