Tuesday, July 9, 2013

No early warning for Nepal’s deadly landslides

IRIN: Landslides in Nepal are the country’s costliest and most deadly type of natural disaster, but their management is still seen as low priority, say experts.  In the past decade landslides killed over 1,300 people and destroyed 10,000 houses, according to the Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS).

NRCS estimates landslides killed more than 36 people in 10 districts from 1 June to 1 July, mostly in the country’s Far West region, which has notoriously treacherous topography, limiting access for relief and basic services.

It is the country’s poorest region with over 46 percent of its 2.7 million people living on less than US$1 a day (nationally 25 percent live on such a low income). “Landslide disasters further impoverish their [survivors’] conditions even more, especially when their breadwinners [are] killed,” senior government official and landslides and watershed management expert Madhukar Upadhya told IRIN.

One problem, said Upadhya, is that there is no ministry or government department with a clear mandate to study, act on, and execute landslide programming.  Until now key government offices dealing with landslide matters included the Ministry of Soil and Conservation, the Department of Roads (in the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure and Transport), the Department of Water Induced Disaster Prevention (in the Ministry of Water Resources) and the Department of Irrigation (Ministry of Irrigation), but none have the power to manage, officials told IRIN.

“The government needs to really take a lead on this and start exploring how the nation can best deal with landslides to avoid any more casualties,” said Pitamber Aryal, disaster management director of NRCS....

The village of Mochhermo in Nepal, shot by Dario Severi, public domain

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