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Earthquake Safe Communities in Nepal

NEPAL MARKED 19TH EARTHQUAKE SAFETY DAY WITH PROGRAMS NATIONWIDE

Nepal marked 19th National Earthquake Safety Day (#19thESD) on January 15, 2017 with various activities nationwide. Acting Prime Minister and Home Minister Mr. Bimalendra Nidhi inaugurated and addressed National Meeting held in the historical city of Sankhu in north-east Kathmandu that had had severe destructions by Gorkha Earthquake 2015.

Chief Guest Mr. Bimalendra Nidhi reaffirmed the commitment of Nepal Government and people of Nepal to work together to reduce the vulnerabilities and save lives in future earthquakes. Mr. Nidhi stated that “we cannot prevent hazards, but we can reduce potential losses through our collective efforts on risk reduction and better preparedness.” NRA's role has not been able to achieve what was expected, however we hope for better progress to take place with new leadership, Mr. Nidhi further stressed.

Nepal Government had decided in 1999 to observe this Day annually in commemoration of the most devastating tremor that quaked on 15th of January 1934 (i.e. 2nd Magh 1990 as per Bikram Sambat Calendar) in Nepal-Bihar region. The Earthquake Safety Day is considered as an occasion to reaffirm National Commitment towards saving lives and lessening potential losses from future earthquakes; and also reviewing past efforts on Earthquake Risk Management and strategizing way forward.

Addressing the ceremony, Mr. Hitaraj Pandey, Minister for Federal Affairs and Local Development stressed to effectively implement Building Code in all the Municipalities and VDCs. Mr. Jay Dev Joshi, Minister for Population and Environment also reaffirmed government’s commitment for reducing the disaster risks.

Mr. Dipak Kuinkel, Parliament Member from the Constituency urged for implementing organized reconstruction actions to address urgencies of affected families.

Dr. Govinda Pokhrel, newly appointed CEO of National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) committed to speed up reconstruction through massive mason trainings arrangements in collaboration with academia, technical institutes and other training facilities, and also addressing grievances at first stand.

Mr. Shiva Hari Sharma, Director General of Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC) highlighted the fact that weak structures cause the most harm during earthquakes.

Mr. Daniel Leaf, UN Disaster Resilience Advisor emphasized on the importance of strong policies and robust institutions for Disaster Resilience. He further added, "Nepal should continue investing in DRR education and preparedness.”

Mr. Varun Prasad Shrestha, Chairperson of National Society of Earthquake Technology - Nepal (NSET) stated that the Gorkha Earthquake 2015 stated that the learning of Gorkha Earthquake 2015 should be at the core of our future strategies. As unfortunate and challenging the disaster was, it should be taken as an opportunity; Mr. Shrestha added.

While proceeding, Earthquake, Earthquake Safety Drill was participated by all gathered by the time 2:24PM when the largest hit was in 1934 Earthquake; and then all each joined hands with next ones creating human chain with a vow "I will learn about earthquake preparedness and I will teach the same to my family."

National Meeting of the 19th Earthquake Safety Day was hosted by Shankharapur Municipality. Mr. Durga Nath Gautam, Chief and Executive Officer of Sankharapur Municipality delivered the welcome remarks and stressed on the urgency of rebuilding Sankhu better and safer as it carries historical and cultural significances. Similarly, Mr. Subarna Shrestha of Sankharapur Municipality had spoken on behalf of the local citizens of Sankharapur.

Earlier in the morning, Earthquake Memorial Meeting held in Bhugol Park, Kathmandu where Acting Prime Minister and Home Minister Mr. Bimalendra Nidhi, Minister for Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD) Mr. Hitaraj Pandey, Acting Chief of Kathmandu Metropolitan City, Chiefs of Security Forces and representatives from various agencies and organizations and community people paid tributes to all those who lost their precious lives in past earthquakes, namely 1934, 2015 and many others. Kathmandu Metropolitan City hosted the Memorial Meeting.

Also, an Earthquake Safety Rally walked along inner city core areas of Sankhu with the messages of earthquake safety and safer reconstruction. The rally had later gathered and converted into National Meeting at the Bhagyodaya School premises.

After the Closing of the National Meeting, Chief Guest Mr. Bimalendra Nidhi inaugurated Earthquake Safety Exhibition in the same premises. The Exhibition demonstrates earthquake safer construction technologies, knowledge and skills required for earthquake safety, initiatives and efforts of earthquake risk management in Nepal. Various agencies and organizations are participating. The Exhibition will run for the next five days.

19th Earthquake Safety Day has been marked in all 75 District Headquarters, Division Offices of DUDBC, and Municipalities and in many communities.

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