Friday, August 22, 2014

Nepal's disaster preparedness woefully inadequate

Om Astha Rai in My Republica: Nepal has put in place plenty of plans, strategies and mechanisms to deal with disasters in the last five years.  But, is Nepal now well-prepared to manage disasters?  The answer is a big NO. In the aftermath of the recent Sunkoshi landslide and other devastating floods, particularly in the plains of the midwestern region, it seems that Nepal´s disaster preparedness is almost non-existent.

Government officials often dub 2009 as a landmark year in the field of disaster risk management. On October 11 that year, the government approved a national strategy for disaster risk management, outlining top five priority areas.  In the years since 2009, several mechanisms, as envisioned by the national strategy, have been formed to manage disasters.

...So, despite all this preparedness, why did the recent floods cause so much damage in the mid-western region? According to the National Emergency Operation Center (NEOC) of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA), floods and landslides have killed 123 people, injured 67 people and left 126 people missing in several parts of the country since August 14.

..."Perhaps, our disaster preparedness is far from adequate," says Ramesh Shrestha, an early warning system officer at Mercy Corps Nepal, an NGO working in disaster management sector. Shrestha believes that there is no gap in disaster management policies and strategies but their implementation is far from satisfactory. "This is why disasters continue to cause so much destruction every year," says Shrestha....

A highway next to the Sunkoshi River, shot by Rajesh2044, Wikimedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license 

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