After the Quake: Waiting for Relief

After the Quake: Waiting for Relief

Organisation: Centre for Investigative Reporting-Nepal (Nepal)

Publication Date: 04/10/2017


Seven reporters rode motorbikes and four-wheel-drive Jeeps into Nepal’s mountains to find some of the 15,000 men, women and children struggling through a second winter in emergency tents or metal shacks. Back in Kathmandu, our data wranglers analyzed more than 6,000 pages of records to track rebuilding grants to earthquake victims. Our goal was to document and explain delays in Nepal’s reconstruction efforts after its devastating April 2015 earthquake. Nepalese people are our audience, but we also wanted to offer a resource for international organizations seeking earthquake recovery data. Our multimedia project, “After the Quake: Waiting for Relief,” is a first in Nepal: seven young journalists from seven different media outlets collaborated on the first really deep data dive by media. Our data chief Arun Karki analyzed records of government reconstruction grants promised to 625,986 households. Using the results, he created interactive maps with granular detail of the slow pace of funds to earthquake-stricken areas. Collectively, stories showed that the Nepal government has so far spent only 3 percent of more than $900 million promised to residents to rebuild. While the seven journalists collaborated on data, each reporter produced and published an individual story. A Republica reporter wrote that a distressing scarcity in manpower was delaying construction – even for those who had money and materials. Rudra Pangeni reported that a mere 150 masons trained in earthquake-resistant techniques were working in the hard-hit Sindhuli district – so few that the bricklayers would need 130 years to erect the district’s 34,256 demolished houses. Collectively, the reporters’ stories reached tens of thousands of readers and viewers across Nepal as they were published in the four leading newspapers and websites. Importantly, stories about how international charities have built only a small fraction of promised houses were broadcast on the BBC-Nepali language service. The interactive maps show in astonishing detail grant distribution for each village in each of the 14 earthquake-hit districts. These figures are constantly updated. The maps alone have been heavily viewed, even in Nepal with its small Internet-penetration. Analytics show an average of 350 views per day. The interactive map for a Nepali Times article alone has received more than 1,000 views. In that report, Shreejana Shrestha revealed complaints and grievances against Village Development Committees where victims were omitted Our stories contribute to the earthquake reconstruction story that will dominate Nepali news for many years. But we demonstrated that complicated and time-consuming data analysis can be shared collaboratively by multiple news outlets to document the human cost of Nepal’s heartbreakingly slow recovery. Our interactive maps alone receive 350 views per day, according to our analytics, and have provided valuable information to officials, residents and media.


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