KATHMANDU, 17 Dec, 2014.Â Experts, lawmakers, government officials and civil society leaders working on disaster preparedness have called for timely efforts to set up effective early warning systems and plans to manage the risks posed by various disasters recurrent in Nepal.
In a Dialogue Series organized by UNDP and Society of Economic Journalist of Nepal (SEJON) on Tuesday the speakers revealed that Nepalâ€™s growth rate is at stake due to disaster risks, which lead to annual economic loss of around Rs 1 billion every year. Key note presenter for the programme, Mr. Amod Mani Dixit, Executive Director of Nepal Earthquake for Earthquake Technology (NSET) cited facts from his recent study that Nepal suffered a loss over Rs. 4.48 billion due to disasters while 32,802 individuals lost their lives and around one third of the countryâ€™s population (6.95 million) have been affected in the period between 1971 to 2013. The financial loss speaks volumes about why we should worry about natural hazards and disaster risks, said Dixit.
In her opening address, Sophie Kemkhadze, UNDP Country Director, a.i. shed light on the importance of disaster risk management and its inherent linkages with human and economic development. She said that the concurrent discussions on Post-2015 frameworks on Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and the Sustainable Development Goals provide us a unique opportunity – To firmly link development with understanding of, and reducing disaster risks, and also to ensure that disaster risk reduction is a key component of development and not an afterthought. “Development discussion in Nepal cannot be complete unless the discourses integrate on disaster risk management. As Nepal is aspiring to upgrade to the status of developing nation by 2022, this is a high time thoroughly focus on this agenda as economic prosperity is not secured unless disaster risk management is strengthened,” she said.
Speakers also noted that of other many indicators the country needs to meet the economic vulnerability index is the one which is closely associated with disaster risk management and this matters significantly when it comes to Nepalâ€™s graduation to developed status.
Speakers also stressed on the need for putting equal emphasis and priority in mitigating risks associated with extensive disasters which account for 81% of the total deaths (19% associated with intensive disasters) and other impacts so far since 1971. The speakers also pointed out to the fact lack of a legislation on disaster risk management should not be a pretext for inaction. â€œWhat we need today is awareness at all levels that disaster preparedness, such as building code implementation is not for the purpose of revenue generation but for safety,â€ said Dixit.
The audience had pointed questions for the panellists. President of National Network of Community Disaster Management Committee Nepal Jagannath Pd. Kurmi asked the panellists whether they could guarantee that the disaster victims would be provided with relief irrespective of their links with the political leaders and ministers, which, he said, was the case in recent disasters. â€œWhere the victims have not even received basic relief, the provision of early warning system and preparedness is a big challenge,â€ he said. Bhakta Bahadur Shahi from Surkhet asked why the government has failed to even provide relief even months after the disaster in Surkhet. He briefed pointed out the fact that many people are still living in tents in the flood affected district.
The panellists had in their deliberations recommended a coherent set of guidelines for relief and response which could address such issues. One of the panellists, Bishnu Kharel form Care Nepal had presented on the lessons learned from the recent disasters and recommended some concrete actions to ensure better preparedness plans and relieve/rescue measures.
Other speakers during the interaction include Honorable Mr. Resham Bahadur Lama, CA Member and Coordinator of Chure Conservation Sub-Committee and member of Environment Conservation Committee (Parliamentary Committee), Mr. Shanmukesh Amatya from Department of Water Induced Disaster Prevention (DWIDP), Mr. Bishnu Kharel from Care Nepal, Ms. Sarah Blin, Country Director, Handicap International, Ms. Ritva Lahti, Country Representative, Nepal, International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.