Nepal. In April, Nepal suffered the worst earthquake in 80 years. The earthquake had its epicenter between the capital Kathmandu and the country’s second largest city Pokhara, west of Kathmandu. Around 9,000 people died and twice as many were injured in the quake, which was measured at 7.8 on the Richter scale. Several aftershocks and avalanches were also triggered as a result of the quake. Among other things, 250 people were reported missing after an avalanche was triggered on a well-known hiking trail in the Langtang area, north of Kathmandu.
According to COUNTRYAAH, Kathmandu is the capital of Nepal which is located in Southern Asia. The earthquake also hit hard on the country’s cultural heritage. Adjacent to the Kathmandu Valley were several millennial buildings and temples that were demolished, such as a well-visited nine-storey stone tower, Dharahara, from the 19th century. According to the UN agency UNESCO, seven groups of buildings and monuments in the Kathmandu Valley are listed on the organisation’s World Heritage List and, after a preliminary assessment, at least three monuments were severely damaged. The oldest buildings in the valley are from the 500s.
The UN estimated that 8 million people, just over a quarter of the country’s population, were affected by the earthquake. Houses, schools and infrastructure were destroyed and millions of people lacked food and water. International relief efforts were directed at the country, which according to Prime Minister Sushil Koirala was in great need of medicines and tents. To speed up the relief effort, the United States sent helicopters and aircraft with supplies to villages difficult to reach via highways. 90% of the country’s residents live in rural areas and in mountainous regions where accessibility is difficult.
In May, Nepal was shaken by a new powerful quake, this time with magnitude 7.3. Up to 70 were reported dead and over 1,200 injured. The quake that occurred in Sunkhani in eastern Nepal, near Mount Everest and the city of Namche Bazar, did not cause as extensive damage as its epicenter was further from the settlement.
The total cost of reconstruction after the two earthquakes was estimated by the Nepali authorities to the equivalent of almost SEK 60 billion.
In June, the annual monsoon rains began, causing further damage to the already heavily ravaged country. Several landslides as a result of the rain took several lives. In the northeastern part of Nepal, 35 people were killed and six villages were buried.
In parallel with the severe natural disasters, unrest was underway in connection with a new constitutional proposal, which meant that the country would be divided into seven different provinces. In August, Parliament agreed on a proposal, triggering violent protest actions as residents feared that the regional divide would lead to their country ends being neglected. Over 40 protesters and police died in the clashes that occurred in several parts of the country, especially in the south and west. People were blocked in protest of roads to, among others, India, and transport problems arose which led to fuel shortages. But despite the turmoil, Parliament adopted by a large majority the new constitution, which made Nepal a secular, federal state with seven provinces.
In October, Parliament appointed Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli, leader of the United Marxist-Leninist Communist Party (UML), as prime minister. Later that month, Parliament elected Bidhya Devi Bhandari from UML as new president. Bhandari, who was Minister of Defense between 2009 and 2011, said she would do her best to protect the constitution and work for the country’s development and prosperity. It was the first time that young democracy, which was governed by a single royal family for many years, got a female president.
In December, more than 200,000 families were still living in makeshift buildings or tents in cold winter conditions, while the unrest in connection with the new constitution continued.