How best to help Nepal

China is likely to play a major role in rebuilding a shattered Nepal following the country's devastating earthquake.

The death toll from Saturday's earthquake in Nepal, the worst in 80 years, has passed 5,000. The cost is put at $2.8bn-$4.5bn, says the Financial Times. International aid has poured in. India and China have sent aircraft, rescuers and supplies; Pakistan has sent cargo planes; and, says the BBC, Britain's £15m contribution has put it at the top of the global donor league.

How can we best help? asks Claire Bennett in The Guardian. Evidence from previous natural disasters reveals that the situation gets worse in subsequent weeks as hospitals are overwhelmed, supplies run low and those in temporary shelter "succumb to exposure and disease".

The 2010 earthquake in Haiti, a country similar to Nepal in economic terms, received huge amounts of international aid but is still recovering five years on. One major issue was "ragtag brigades of well-intentioned do-gooders" flooding Haiti but lacking the skills and coordination to have an impact.

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Nepal does not need untrained bystanders, particularly given that its only international airport is damaged. It needs money and, in the long run, sustainabilityis key. Nepal is earthquake-prone. The houses that withstand future shocks will neither be the cheapest nor volunteer-built.

Quite, says The Daily Telegraph. Such disasters are not really "natural", but rather "almost entirely man made": it is "shoddy building that kills people". A similar quake might kill 100 times as many people in Nepal as in California. Help with this issue is the "real foreign aid" that Nepal needs.

Technological expertise and advice are key, particularly as the risk is rising due to rapid urbanisation in the region, agrees The Times. Much of the help is likely to come from its neighbours, rising Asian superpowers China and India, says Didi Tang in The Independent. The "largesse of recent days represents a subtle brand of disaster politics".

Nepal may be one of Asia's poorest nations, but it's strategically located no wonder its "powerful neighbours [are] jockeying for position". While China's relief effort may not rival India's, with "nearly £2.5trn in foreign currency reserves and a vast engineering and manufacturing capacity", it is likely to play a major role in Nepal's rebuilding process.

Emily Hohler

Emily has extensive experience in the world of journalism. She has worked on MoneyWeek for more than 20 years as a former assistant editor and writer. Emily has previously worked on titles including The Times as a Deputy Features Editor, Commissioning Editor at The Independent Sunday Review, The Daily Telegraph, and she spent three years at women's lifestyle magazine Marie Claire as a features writer for three years, early on in her career. 

On MoneyWeek, Emily’s coverage includes Brexit and global markets such as Russia and China. Aside from her writing, Emily is a Nutritional Therapist and she runs her own business called Root Branch Nutrition in Oxfordshire, where she offers consultations and workshops on nutrition and health.