KATHMANDU: Nepal on Thursday marked the fourth anniversary of a massive earthquake that killed almost 9,000 people and left millions homeless, some of whom are still living in temporary shelters.

Nepal’s Prime Minister K.P. Sharma Oli joined locals and civil servants at a memorial in the Kathmandu Durbar Square, a Unesco world heritage site being rebuilt after it was badly damaged in the April 2015 quake.

A minute’s silence was observed around 11:56am — the time the 7.8-magnitude quake hit, triggering avalanches and landslides across Nepal destroying schools, hospitals, centuries-old temples and royal palaces in the Kathmandu valley that attracted visitors from around the world.

The National Reconstruction Authority, the government body overseeing rebuilding, says that half of the families left homeless in the quake have already completed reconstruction and started living in their new homes. Another 30 per cent are currently building new homes.

Families were given about $3000 in government grants over three instalments to rebuild. But a $9 billion reconstruction effort has been plagued by political infighting, bureaucracy and confusion among quake victims over how to obtain the grants. The government also faces an estimated $4 billion shortfall in reconstruction funds.

Published in Dawn, April 26th, 2019