Earthquake Safe Communities in Nepal

National Symposium held on Earthquake Risk Management and Risk Reduction concludes

As the country now is in the transition to federalism, various experts and professionals highlighted the important role and responsibility that local governments have in overall disaster risk management efforts during a two-day National Symposium on “Earthquake Risk Management and Risk Reduction” organized on the occasion of 20th Earthquake Safety Day.

During the symposium organized in the Capital, various stakeholders including professionals working on the Disaster Risk Management field, government officials, policy makers, implementers, experts, academia among others have stressed on the need of focusing on the disaster risk reduction efforts by the local governments in the changed context of federalism.

With the view to provide a forum for the corresponding development sectors and stakeholders to discuss on the past experiences, progress and pertinent issues and way forward towards reconstruction and preparedness to minimize the future impacts of large-scale earthquakes in the communities, the symposium is organized every year. It is a regular program as a part of the Earthquake Safety Day. This year’s ESD slogan is: Empowering Local Communities and Governments: Strong Foundation of Earthquake Safety'. Nepal observes annual Earthquake Safety Day every year during 15 or 16 January in commemoration of the Great Nepal-Bihar Earthquake of 1934 by organizing different activities with the purpose of raising awareness on earthquake risk reduction and preparedness.

Altogether 12 thematic sessions were held to discuss on following issues:

•  Status, Issues and Challenges Gorkha Earthquake Housing Reconstruction in Changed Context of Federalism,

•  Policy, Strategy and Action plan on Disaster Risk Reduction in the Context of Federal Transition in Nepal, 
•  Reconstruction for Vulnerable Population: Urban and Rural Housing, 
•  Findings of Study on Cause of Deaths and Injuries (CDI) in the 2015 Gorkha (Nepal) Earthquake, 
•  Building Code Implementation in Nepal: Building Permit Process,
•  Current Status & Way Forward on Earthquake Preparedness based on Lessons Learnt from Gorkha Earthquake ` Context of Transition to Federal System,  
•  Reconstruction in Flood affected area,  
•  Experience Sharing on Building Code Implementation and Launching of Technical Support on Building Code Implementation in Nepal (TSBCIN), 
•  Research and Development on Rural Housing,
•  Post-Earthquake Re-strengthening and Reconstruction of Cultural Heritage: Status, Issues, Challenges, and way forward for Safeguarding, 
•  Urban Planning and Resilience and 
•  Building Resilient Schools.

Speaking at the inauguration program, Mayor of Kathmandu Metropolitan City Biddhya Sundar Shakya urged everyone to take lessons from the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake and stressed on earthquake preparedness and follow risk reduction measures to minimize the loss of lives and property at the similar disaster in the future.  “Our experience in the KMC clearly showed that post disaster reconstruction is very tough task and it could not be carried out effectively despite providing the reconstruction grant to affected people by the government. Thus, we must be prepared before such disaster,” Mr. Shakya said.

On the occasion, he highlighted some of the plans that his municipality is introducing to implement the Building Code in stringent manner in all kind of building construction.

Also speaking at the program, Dr. Hari Ram Parajuli, Executive Committee member of NRA stressed on the need of putting priority on the safety of public infrastructures like hospital buildings and schools rather than private houses. “Although the recurrence interval of the earthquake is long comparing to floods and other types of disasters, the risks of earthquake is far more severe and high in terms of human lives and property. Thus, we need to put special attention to this fact and need to be prepared for this,” Parajuli remarked.

Joint Secretary at Ministry of Urban development Mr. Shambhu KC urged local government to put its focus on earthquake risk reduction activities in the changed context of federalization of the country.

Highlighting the various events of the two-day symposium, Mr Krishna Bahadur Raut, Joint Secretary at Ministry of Home Affairs, urged government and donors to step up the activities and efforts in minimizing the earthquake risk reduction as the cost of post disaster recovery is far higher than the actual cost requires for the preparedness activities.  He also said to cary out any development activities keeping the risk sensitivity in the mind.

Mani Ram Gelal, Deputy Director General of Department of Urban Development and Building Construction emphasized on building multi hazard disaster resilient infrastructures as the country is in the risk of all kinds of disasters except tsunami.

In his welcome remark, Dr. Amod Mani Dixit, Executive Director of National Society of Earthquake Technology (NSET), clarified the objective of the symposium. Highlighting that earthquake risk is the biggest source of risk in Nepal, Mr Dixit emphasized on cooperation and joint work and coordination among the stakeholders to achieve the overall goal of sustainable earthquake safety in the country.

National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC), Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC) and NSET in association with various government and non-governmental organizations are organizing symposium every year.



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