Prime Minister Sushil Koirala,
ladies and gentlemen,
We are here today in response to the terrible earthquakes that struck Nepal two months ago. The worst natural disaster for 80 years. More than 8800 dead, more than 23 000 injured. Hundreds of thousands of people made homeless. Entire villages flattened across the country. Centuries-old buildings destroyed. Millions of lives changed in a moment.
So I would like to start by conveying my deepest condolences on behalf of the Norwegian people. Our thoughts are with all those who lost loved ones, with families who lost their homes and livelihoods, with communities that lost essential, life-sustaining infrastructure.
Nepal is one of Norway’s 12 focus countries for development assistance, – where we are deepening our partnership and expanding our efforts. You can count on our long-term involvement – and you can count on us now.
On the same day as the first earthquake, Norway allocated 30 million NOK to the immediate relief effort. Since then, we have allocated a further 200 million – for immediate disaster relief, for early recovery and for efforts in areas where only limited assistance has reached so far. Norway has now allocated a total of 230 million NOK, or about 30 million USD, in humanitarian assistance.
Our emphasis is on reaching the groups who are particularly badly affected by such disasters – children, the elderly, people with disabilities, the poor, marginalised communities,- people living in remote areas, Dalits and indigenous peoples. We expect our partners to ensure that the most vulnerable people receive assistance to meet their particular needs.
Women and girls are at greater risk of being exploited or exposed to gender-based violence in the current phase of the disaster. We must do our utmost to prevent this from happening. As we move from disaster relief to early recovery, we must take a broader perspective. Humanitarian assistance must pave the way for long-term development.
Government structures are key to the successful rebuilding of Nepal. This is why Norway is funding temporary office facilities for local government.
The post-disaster needs assessment identified the need for rehabilitation and reconstruction in the energy sector.
Part of Norway’s 200 million NOK increase in funding for Nepal’s energy sector are to support these endeavours.
Nepal is close to achieving universal primary education. The progress that has already been made must not be lost.
But rebuilding over 32.000 classrooms so that they can withstand natural disasters is an enormous task. We therefore allocated some of our initial humanitarian funding to education, – and I am pleased to announce that we will be increasing our support for education in Nepal and the rebuilding of schools to 80 million NOK in 2016.
Emergency relief is never enough, said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon after the earthquakes. And he is right. Emergency relief is only the necessary first step.
We must do more and better. The Nepali authorities, the people, and particularly young people, have been pulling together, including in a huge voluntary effort to deal with this crisis. As you strive to recover and rebuild your country, we promise to stand by you. We will work with you – not only to build back, but to build back better.
Only in this way will sustainable development be possible and your future be secure.