Earthquake Safe Communities in Nepal

Journos discussed on the roles of mass media in institutionalizing the Reconstruction Efforts and promote Retrofit

Journalists from different media houses intensely discussed on the roles of mass media in institutionalizing the reconstruction efforts and promote retrofit. 25 more journalists representing national and local broadsheets, national television and different radio stations profoundly explored the ideas that media should play in promoting safer communities.

During a two-day media workshop on "Roles of Mass Media in Institutionalizing the Reconstruction Efforts and Promoting Resilient Communities" organized under Baliyo Ghar Program, the journos outlined the areas that media can involve themselves in promoting resilient communities. The media workshop was organized in Dhulikhel during 18-19 Sep, 2019.

Addressing the opening session of the workshop, Dr. Bishnu Bahadur Bhandari, Executive Member of National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) emphasized on the reconstruction learnings, roles of mass media towards institutionalizing the current efforts and promote retrofit along with other issues of reconstruction. "Role of media is very important in post disaster scenario, so mass media must also be sensitive as to what to broadcast and what not since media can present a deep impression among audience," Dr. Bhandari said, "We have collected a tremendous learnings of reconstruction, no one should be left behind and these days retrofit, addressing the vulnerable families among others are the burning issues. NRA thinks of walking together with the mass media to address these issues and institutionalize the efforts." He urged media personnel to promote retrofit as it provides an opportunity to provide cost effective measures to strengthen damaged and non-damaged houses, while also preserving the traditional architecture.

Mr. Shreeram Singh Basnet, media expert and board member of NSET stressed on the NSET's vision and mission of working with mass media. He said, "NSET has been involved in policy interventions and working in communities where media personnel too are playing a bridging role. Hence NSET is working with mass media to strengthen the relations between grassroots and policy level." He commended that NRA and the government should appreciate the efforts of media personnel in the aftermath of the earthquake and work on enhancing the capacity of Nepali media, both technically and infrastructures.

Mr. Khadga Sen Oli, Advocacy and Outreach Manager to NSET highlighted the objectives of organizing media workshop whereas Mr. Ranjan Dhungel, Program Manager of Baliyo Ghar put emphasis on the impacts of collaborating with mass media for safer reconstruction. He also sought the effective roles of mass media for sustainable construction practice which will serve towards building resilient communities.

During the workshop sessions, Mr. Manohar Ghimire, Deputy Spokesperson of NRA shared the reconstruction learning gathered so far and highlighted on the importance of retrofit and speeding up urban reconstruction. Likewise, Dr. Ramesh Guragain discussed on retrofitting masonry buildings and its significance in Nepal. Mr. Shreeram Singh Basnet presented the media roles during disaster, post-quake reconstruction and stressed on media roles towards promoting retrofit and localizing the current efforts.

Two panel discussions were conducted during the two day workshop. On the first day a panel discussion was conducted to share the grassroots experiences of reconstruction and socio-technical assistance as well as experience of implementing building code in municipalities. Mr. Dhruba Kumar Shrestha, Ward Chair of Sailung rural municipality-03, Mr. Mahendra Raj Khatri, Ward Chair of Shivapuri Rural Municipality-01, Mr. Ramdhan Shrestha, Engineer of Ghorahi Sub-metropolitan City, Dang and Mr. Gambu Thami, a trained mason served as panelists where Mr. Ranjan Dhungel, Program Manager of Baliyo Ghar moderated the discussion.

Likewise, on the second day, to summarize the roles of mass media in post disaster reconstruction, in promoting retrofit, dig out the unheard stories and media's role in localizing the current efforts, a panel discussion was conducted among the participants. Mr. Tekraj Thami, Senior Reporter of NayaPatrika Daily, Mr. Shreedhar Neupane, Editor of CIN and Mr. Dipak Sapkota, Communication focal person of NRA discussed the issues as panelists and Mr. Laxman Karki, Sub Editor of Ujjyalo Network moderated the session. During the panel discussion, participants from Nepal Television, Rajdhani Daily, Nagarik Daily among others shared their contribution for better and safer reconstruction as well as focused on the write-ups to be maintained in the days to come.

Speaking in different sessions and through the discussions made, the participant journalists have committed to put their critical eye and support the government process regarding ongoing reconstruction, promote retrofit and strengthen media role in localizing the current efforts for sustainable construction practice.

Likewise, to institutionalize the current knowledge and efforts, as shared by Mr. Ramdhan Shrestha, Engineer of Ghorahi during panel discussion, registration of engineers and masons in rural municipalities should be a subject of priority. Registration of houses that have been constructed within the rural municipalities can ensure the safer construction practice. Likewise, providing subsidies to motivate house-owners and promote culture of earthquake safe construction in rural areas can be done. Rural Municipalities where consultancies are not available can train the municipal engineers and consultant engineers to help draw the design of houses probably free of cost will encourage the house-owners and mainstream them towards seismic safety. Mass media can best serve in digging out these issues and promote culture of safety in rural municipalities.

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