Nepal Rural Housing Reconstruction Program

February 2, 2016


  • Nepal suffered 2 major earthquakes and subsequent aftershocks in April & May 2015. 8,700 people were killed and 25,000 suffered injuries.
  • The international community has been working together to assist Government of Nepal with relief, recovery and reconstruction.
  • The Nepal Rural Housing Reconstruction Program is launched integrating the extensive international experience and best practices applied in prior disasters of this magnitude.

DISASTER STRIKES: The Walls Came Tumbling Down

On April 25, 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal. Following a second strong earthquake on May 12 (7.3 magnitude), and a sequence of aftershocks, the Government of Nepal (GoN) reported the death toll at approximately 8,700 and those injured at 25,000. The earthquakes also triggered extensive landslides and avalanches causing further damage and disruption in essential services. The earthquake sequence destroyed 490,000 houses -- mostly traditional mud-brick and mud-stone houses built and occupied by the rural poor -- and rendered another 265,000 houses at least temporarily uninhabitable. The immediate impact on poverty, livelihood and output has been severe. According to official estimates, in the most heavily affected districts (which includes Kathmandu), about 9.4 million people have been affected by the disaster. 

RAPID RESPONSE: Digging through the rubble

Post Disaster Needs Assessment

Upon request from the National Planning Commission (NPC) of the Government of Nepal, the World BankUnited Nations Development Program (UNDP)European Union (EU), the Asian Development Bank (ADB), and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) supported a Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA). Numerous international partners were actively engaged in providing teams to help carry out the PDNA. This Assessment, led by the NPC to determine the impact of the earthquake events, was completed on June 15, 2015 (within one month of its launch) with impressive, efficient and extensive collaboration.

The PDNA found that total damages and losses amounted to about US$7 billion, with reconstruction needs of about US$6.7 billion, or about 30 percent of GDP. The largest single need identified in the PDNA was for housing and human settlements -- 755,000 houses in Nepal were found to be destroyed or significantly damaged -- accounting for US$3.27 billion or almost half of the total reconstruction needs. This is based on estimates of the areas affected and of the proportion of assets to be replaced or rebuilt. 

" The largest single need identified in the PDNA was for “housing and human settlements”: 755,000 houses were destroyed or damaged, accounting for US$3.27 billion or almost half of Nepal’s total reconstruction needs. "

The impact of the damage on productivity will depends on the extent to which critical network infrastructure (e.g., energy, roads) are damaged and the time needed for repairs. Total damages and losses for traditional infrastructure sectors such as water, energy and transport range between US$100 and US$200 million.  After housing, the education sector suffered the second highest damages and losses at approximately US$300 million, while the health impact is estimated at US$60 million.

Donors Conference

An international donors conference was held in Kathmandu on June 25, 2015, to organize support for Nepal based on the needs identified in the Post Disaster Needs Assessment. Many countries, international financial institutions, foundations and non-governmental organizations throughout the world stepped forward to partner with the Government of Nepal in addressing the needs of the country post-disaster. During the conference, approximately US$4.4 billion was pledged in support of Nepal’s recovery and reconstruction efforts as well as to help the country become more resilient in the future.


To support the Government of Nepal’s rural housing reconstruction efforts, a Multi-Donor Trust Fund has been established with support from US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), and the World Bank.  Key Development Partners, such as the

Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), are working in close collaboration with MDTF partners in extending the coverage of the rural housing reconstruction program services to additional areas of the country.

To address the housing reconstruction needs and to build a more resilient Nepal, the Government of Nepal is leading the overall housing reconstruction efforts nationally through a housing reconstruction program meant to encompass all of the housing stock to be rebuilt. The program will also serve as a coordinating framework to standardize housing reconstruction policy, irrespective of the funding sources.

The advantages of this multi-donor approach include, among others: (i) reduced transaction costs for the GoN and donors by working through a single funding facility; (ii) increased harmonization of reconstruction by pooling resources in support of the Government’s Reconstruction Plan; (iii) greater efficiency through reduced duplication of efforts among partners; and (iv) enhanced transparency and accountability. 


The Rural Housing Reconstruction Program will focus on restoring affected housing in 14 targeted rural districts while providing technical support to enhance the government’s ability to improve long-term disaster resilience throughout Nepal.

The program’s overall objective will ensure that houses destroyed in the most affected districts of the country will be rebuilt using earthquake-safer building techniques through grants and technical assistance to eligible households from the Government of Nepal. 

The program also seeks to equip beneficiaries with skills to construct earthquake-safer core housing units supported by training, technical support and a subsidy program, and to allow for incremental construction with improved practices.


The design of the Nepal Rural Housing Reconstruction Program is based upon key principles derived from the broad international experiences and best practices of other housing reconstruction programs. These key pillars, upon which the program is built, include the following tenets: (1) owner-driven, (2) employs a harmonized approach, (3) flexible to local realities, (4) based on multiple tranches of grant assistance with verification, and (5) rebuilding is done with greater resilience.

Stages of the Rural Housing Reconstruction Program

The Nepal Rural Housing Reconstruction Program is structured around five major stages of implementation, each one building upon the other, as follows: 


Stage I: The Survey

The Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) is conducting a comprehensive census of damage to the housing stock in each of the fourteen most-affected districts. This door-to-door assessment will generate a beneficiary/damage database to serve as the basis of the rural housing reconstruction program as well as assist in the effective monitoring of the recovery process.

Stage II: Identification and Validation

Based on the eligibility criteria, an analysis of the survey results will generate a list of eligible households at Nepal’s Village Development Committee (VDC) or municipality level (and when possible, at the more micro - local ward level).

Stage III: Enrollment

Eligible beneficiaries will enroll in the program by entering into a legally binding Participation Agreement (PA) with their VDC. The PA outlines the entitlements and obligations of both parties regarding key details of the program such as: payment, housing construction standards, and grievance redress mechanisms (how beneficiaries can address any complaints).

Stage IV: Reconstruction

The principle of owner-driven reconstruction is fundamental to the Nepal housing program. Beneficiaries will be supported with socio-technical assistance; training and market facilitation; and cash-based assistance, provided in tranches, upon certification of the utilization of earthquake-safer building techniques guided by Nepal’s National Building Code (NBC).

Stage V: Completion

In the final stage of the program cycle, the beneficiary will obtain the “Building Construction Completion Certificate”, which precedes the occupancy of the housing unit.

IT TAKES A VILLAGE: The international community at work in Nepal

Numerous international partners have come forward to help Nepal address recovery and reconstruction in critical sectors. With the collaboration of the Government of Nepal and numerous International Partners, the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment identified the country’s total damages and losses at US$7 billion. The damage to housing and human settlements accounts for about half – US$3.27 billion – of the total losses suffered in the earthquake events of April and May of 2015.

Development partners including international aid agencies, international financial institutions, NGOs and foundations are providing the much needed resources and technical expertise to help rebuild – with greater resilience -- Nepal’s vital sectors.