Earthquake Safe Communities in Nepal

DFID launches the Nepal Safer Schools Project (NSSP) in western Nepal

DFID has launched Nepal Safer School Project (NSSP) in province 5, 7 along with Karnali Province to help retrofit and reconstruct the schools vulnerable to earthquakes. The NSSP is aligned with the Government of Nepal’s School Sector Development Plan (2016-2023) which includes a focus on School Safety and Disaster Risk Reduction, by upgrading physical infrastructure to be more resilient and ensuring the curriculum and teacher training integrates disaster resilience.

Addressing the Launching program in Kathmandu, Director Mr. Deepak Sharma from Department of Education appreciated and thanked DFID for this support and noted ‘This programme will test new ways of protecting vulnerable communities from natural disasters that can be replicated across the country.’

On the occasion, DFID Infrastructure Advisor Ms. Eleanor Bainbridge remarked, “I am very pleased to see this programme getting under way to reduce the risk of school children and communities to natural disasters in Nepal"

The Nepal Safer Schools Project (NSSP) is one of six components of the DFID's‘ Strengthening Disaster Resilience in Nepal’ program that will help build the resilience of vulnerable people and reduce the impact of natural hazards in Nepal.

Background information

Nepal is subject to a wide range of disaster risks and impacts, including both earthquakes and climate related hazards such as floods, droughts and landslides. Disasters cost the government about six percent of its annual development expenditure per year. Recent estimates indicate that the negative impact of weather variability is equivalent to around 2% of current GDP per year rising to 5% or more in extreme monsoon flood years. These impacts are expected to increase significantly due to climate change.

Over 4 million children in Nepal are taught in schools which use unsafe buildings that are not complainant with Nepal’s building code standards. These schools are at risk of collapse in earthquakes, with many also vulnerable to other hazards (e.g. landslides and floods). A school vulnerability assessment completed in2011 estimated that more than 61,000 schools – over half of all schools in Nepal– required retrofitting or reconstruction3. Whilst there have been a number of initiatives ongoing in Nepal to improve school safety, the 2015 earthquake demonstrated the vulnerability of school buildings, with nearly 7,000 schools significantly or completely damaged.

During the earthquake, seismically-resilient schools performed significantly better than those without strengthening or incremental improvement. Where school buildings were undamaged, they performed vital functions in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, acting as centres for disaster coordination, and safe shelters for the community. There is also some evidence that safer schools programmes beyond physical infrastructure have also supported wider awareness raising on earthquake risk, and community and family preparedness.


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