Earthquake Safe Communities in Nepal

21st National Symposium on 'Earthquake Risk Reduction and Management in Nepal' held in Kathmandu

Various experts and professionals have highlighted the collaborative and integrated roles and responsibilities of all three tiers of governments on disaster risk reduction and management efforts in the changed context of new federal governance structures. They were speaking at the National Symposium on “Earthquake Risk Reduction and Management in Nepal” organized in Kathmandu on January 22, 2019 on the occasion of 21st Earthquake Safety Day (ESD).

The National Symposium is a regular program as a part of the annual ESD which Nepal observes every year on 15 or 16 January and around commemorating the Great Nepal-Bihar Earthquake of 1934. National Symposium is a sharing and learning forum for the DRR stakeholders to review the DRR efforts of past year and discourse and explore the way forward in Earthquake Risk Management.

Addressing at the Opening Ceremony of the program, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) Mr. Sushil Gyewali said that NRA has redesigned its approach and is moving ahead in collaboration with Local Governments in its reconstruction bid in line with the Nepal's changed context of governance system. Adding that the reconstruction process is progressing satisfactorily, Mr. Gyewali remarked, "Villages and settlements are on the verge of concluding their reconstruction works as there has been 80 percent of private housings are either accomplished its rebuilding process or being rebuilt. Only 20 percent are left to be rebuilt and half of them probably never going to rebuild their houses."

The Chair of the program, Mr. Maniram Gelal, Director General of Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC) highlighted the need of paying efforts to reducing disaster risk by enhancing preparedness as country is prone to high level of multi hazards including earthquakes. "Constructing structures resilient to earthquakes is important aspect of preparedness," Mr. Gelal said.

Addressing the ceremony, Ms. Indu Ghimire, Joint Secretary and Head of Disaster Management Division at Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) shared that MoHA is all set to promulgate Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Regulation and form the Disaster Risk and Management Authority soon in line with the newly enacted Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, 2017. "It took the country 30 years to focus reduction-centric disaster management approach from rescue-centric approach. Now, we are working day-night to develop an integrated disaster information system so that it could help in disaster risk reduction planning efforts in future," Ms. Ghimire remarked.

Addressing the ceremony, Ms. Indu Ghimire, Joint Secretary and Head of Disaster Management Division at Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) shared that MoHA is all set to promulgate Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Regulation and form the Disaster Risk and Management Authority soon in line with the newly enacted Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, 2017. "It took the country 30 years to focus reduction-centric disaster management approach from rescue-centric approach. Now, we are working day-night to develop an integrated disaster information system so that it could help in disaster risk reduction planning efforts in future," Ms. Ghimire remarked.

On the occasion, Mr. Chhabi Raj Pokharel, General Secretary of Nepal Engineers’ Association, extended his commitment of Nepali Engineering fraternity to work together with various stakeholders on building resilient buildings and infrastructures. Mr. Pokharel added, “the roles that Engineers have to play in  in safer and earthquake resilient construction is huge and we are committed to contribute from our end”. 

Mr. Krishna Raj Kaphle from United Nations Development Program said that Nepal has promulgated Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act and Action Plan for 2018-2030 in line with international commitments and national requirements. “But the effective implementation of the policy into actions is more important”, MR. Kafle added.

Initially, Mr. Surya Narayan Shrestha, Executive Director, NSET had highlighted the objectives of Earthquake Safety Day and its one of the regular events, the National Symposium.  On the occasion, Mr. Shrestha remarked, “symposiums has become an important platform every year to discuss upon burning issues of Nepal's Disaster Risk Reduction efforts and the outcomes and the recommendations are not just for documentation but go for immediate actions.”

In the beginning, Mr. Dwarika Shrestha, Deputy Director General of DUDBC in his welcome note on behalf of all the organizers gave a glimpse of Nepal’s efforts on promoting resilient construction. “Effective enforcement of Building Codes is key to ensure resilient structures and we are progressing much in terms of developing better understanding and building local capacity as well” MR. Shrestha remarked.

In the Symposium this year, total four thematic sessions organized:
• Disaster Risk Reduction and Management in the Context of Localization in Nepal, 
• Role of Mass Media for Resilient Communities in the context of Federalization, 
• Need, Possibilities and Challenges for Seismic Retrofit of Non-Engineered Buildings, and 
• Young Researcher’s Session on Disaster Risk Reduction in Nepal.

The DUDBC and NSET in association with various government and non-governmental organizations organized this year's symposium. About 200 people representing different DRR stakeholders, professionals, teachers and students participated the National Symposium, 2019.

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