By Purna N. Ranjitkar l
A disaster is a serious problem occurring over a short or long period of time that causes widespread human, material, economic or environmental loss which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources.
Studies say that developing countries suffer the greatest costs when a disaster hits – more than 95% of all deaths caused by hazards occur in developing countries, and losses due to natural hazards are 20 times greater (as a percentage of GDP) in developing countries than in industrialised countries.
Nepal has fragile geology and steep topography make 20th topmost disaster prone country in the world. Among 200 countries, Nepal ranks 4th, 11th and 30th with regard to relative vulnerability to climate change, earthquake and flood hazards respectively. It faces high magnitudes and intensities of a multitude of natural hazards such as flood, landslide, earthquake, fire, hailstone, windstorm, thunderbolt, cloudburst, drought, glacier lake outburst flood (GLOF), avalanches and epidemics.
Monsoon is the rainy season which starts normally around mid-June, peaking in July and August, and winding down in early September in Nepal. Monsoon brings humidity and an increase in temperatures across most of country as well. Paddy plantation is the main agricultural activity in the early Monsoon season.
Moreover, most of the natural disasters like flood, landslide, inundation, snake bites, water-borne epidemic take place in Nepal is Monsoon season.
Last year Monsoon was much paining for the country. It damaged extensively. Flood in Melamchi was the worst experience. In another instance, a torrential rain at the end of the Monsoon destroyed ready to reap paddy crops almost across the country. In total, Monsoon rain in the country claimed 258 lives, 65 missing and 192 injured. It also damaged 45 motorable bridges, 3 belly bridges, 87 trail bridges, 58 government buildings, 93 educations buildings, 52 hydropower plants, 678 drinking water resources. Likewise 1022 households were completely destroyed and 630 were partially damaged.
In the current year, Monsoon entered the country on June 05.It was a week early entrance as of past records. Monsoon season, which delivers around 80 per cent of the country’s total annual rainfall, generally lasts 105 days. But, in recent years, it has been taking few more days to withdraw and also volume of rain fall was above average per year.
A recent report which is based on the data of past 11 years predicts that this year 2 million people from 421,000 households may be influenced by the disasters caused by Monsoon rains.The report further says that 570,000 people may be influenced in Province 1 at top and 55,000 in Karnali Province at least. Likewise, waterborne diseases and snakebite cases may also take place at an above average rate.
This is worth to mention that Government of Nepal (GoN) had endorsed a National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Policy 2075 and Disaster Risk Reduction National Strategic Action Plan 2018 – 2030, which provides a comprehensive planning framework for disaster risk reduction and management in Nepal, encompassing different priority areas and guiding government actors and stakeholders to achieve targets by adopting appropriate processes.
Nepal’s National Emergency Operation Centre’s Standard Operating Procedures (NEOC SOP) 207225 has outlined its procedures, depending on levels of a disaster event. It classifies disasters into 4 levels. If the nature and effect of a disaster is limited to certain localities, it is categorized as Level 1. At this level, the Centre’s leadership will be the Chief of the NEOC (Under Secretary), who will work under guidance from the Joint Secretary of the respective Division of the Ministry. If the nature and effect of the disaster is at district level, the Joint Secretary of the Division will normally head the NEOC, and the Secretary of Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) will actively guide the NEOC Team. If the nature and effect of the disaster is of regional nature (i.e. expanding to multiple districts), the Secretary of MoHA will lead the NEOC, and the Home Minister will actively guide the NEOC Team. Level 4 is a national emergency situation. The Chief Secretary of Nepal Government will lead the NEOC Centre and the Cabinet will guide the NEOC Team, although this reflects a bureaucratic hierarchy over functional differences in operation of the NEOC.
Disasters and emergencies have been increasing all over the world. Technological advancement, acquiring knowledge and its application in the realm of action is regarded have made effective way for prevent disasters or reducing its effects easier.
International Non-Government Organisations, Non-Government Social Organisations, Government organisations and many others have been working on disaster preparedness activities which need more to intensify focusing on local levels as the people at local levels are first to act in any disaster situation.
Responsible authorities mention that funds for disaster management have been maintained. The total sum of the fund is 6 billion 803 million and 620 thousand rupees. The amount is a total of Prime Minister Natural Disaster Relief Fund 3 billion 59 million100 thousand rupees, National Disaster Management Fund 2 billion, 60 million, Provincial Disaster Management Fund (7 provinces) 594 million, 490 thousand, District Disaster Management Fund (77 districts) 1 billion 90 million, 30 thousand. Moreover, agencies and instructions responsible for disaster impact reduction, rescue and relief need to impart needful knowledge and skill to possible victims, local leaders, social organisations and other volunteer organisations so as loss and damage may be minimised. The knowledge on getting warnings, weather forecasts, evacuation methods, finding safe shelters, manage food, water, medicines to victims, communicating to rescue-authorities, experts, relief material providers and communicating to concern authorities at the earliest possible can contribute to minimise loss and damages form disasters.