KATHMANDU: Foreign donors and agencies announced billions of dollars in aid for Nepal on Thursday, but it fell short by half of what the Himalayan nation wants to rebuild from the devastating earthquake that killed more than 8,800 people and made millions homeless.
The biggest donation came from the giant southern neighbor India, which pledged assistance of $1 billion during a one-day donors’ conference in Kathmandu.
“Nepal and India are joined in both their joys and sorrows. Therefore, we need to closely coordinate our disaster response, and help each other in the wake of such calamities,” Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said.
India, which surrounds Nepal from three sides, was the first to respond to the April 25 earthquake in what was its largest disaster assistance effort abroad.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said his country would provide $483 million.
Asian Development Bank pledged $600 million and Japan said it would give $260 million. The United States said it would provide $130 million. World Bank had already announced $500 million for Nepal.
Nepal has said it requires some $6.7 billion for reconstruction.
Nepal’s Finance Minister Ram Sharan Mahat said his country’s trade deficit will widen following the earthquake, while foreign reserves remain adequate with transfers from the rest of the world increasing.
“It is now certain that the target for revenue collection in the current fiscal year will face a shortfall of 8 percent,” he said. “This is the reason why we are looking to our development partners to fill a growing fiscal gap for the next three to five years.”
The magnitude-7.8 earthquake was followed by a magnitude-7.3 quake on May 12, with both killing 8,841 people. About 875,000 private and government structures have been damaged, according to the government’s National Emergency Response Center.