Earthquake Safe Communities in Nepal

Nepal observed 22nd Earthquake Safety Day, Home Minister stressed on building disaster resilient infrastructures and buildings

Home Minister Mr. Ram Bahadur Thapa ‘Badal’ has believed that construction of buildings and infrastructure that are resilient to earthquakes would be a best way out for reducing the impact of impending earthquakes as county is at high risk of such disaster.

Addressing the National Meeting of 22nd Earthquake Safety Day (ESD) held in Bhaktapur, Minister Thapa urged general people and concerned stakeholders to support in building resilient community campaign.

"This year’s ESD slogan 'Resilient Infrastructures for Sustained Happiness and Prosperity' is best appropriate in the modern context of country as most of deaths and damage in the past disaster was befell by damage in buildings," he said, "Infrastructures merely doesn't mean physical structures rather it also meant awareness among the people and commitment of the people for resilient Nepal."

"Government is taking ahead with various efforts in reducing the impending disaster risk in the country and formation of National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA) as part of it", Minister Thapa added.

Drop, Cover and Hold on

"Arguing that local and provincial governments have immense role to minimize and combat the disaster risk in the country in line with practical and legal provisions of country, Minister Thapa went on to say that federal government is committed to assist them in so doing.

Nepal marked 22nd edition of ESD with various events at central, provincial and local level with the slogan "Resilient Infrastructures for Sustained Happiness and Prosperity". Bhaktapur Municipality hosted the National Programs of 22nd ESD on Jan 16, 2020.

The National Meeting was chaired by Mr. Sunil Prajapati, Mayor of Bhaktapur Municipality. Mr. Ram Bahadur Thapa 'Badal' who is also the chair of the ESD National Organizing Committee was invited as the chief guest. Various prominent personalities also addressed the program.

Addressing the meeting, Mr. Sushil Gyewali, Chief Executive Officer of National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), claimed that post Gorkha Earthquake reconstruction campaign in Nepal is moving ahead in right direction apart from some initial hiccups. "I am immensely proud now that Nepal’s reconstruction campaign is following the path of Japan’s reconstruction approach although there were some fears initially that it would ended up as in Haiti," Mr. Gyewali remarked. He further said that distribution of government reconstruction grant in three tranches has not only ensured the practices of safer construction of houses devastated by the Gorkha Earthquake but also promoted the public awareness about safer construction in grassroots.

Mr. Prem Suwal, a federal parliament member elected from Bhaktapur, stressed on the need of introducing concrete planning, programs and technology for effective implementation and institutionalization of initiative to combat earthquake risk in Nepal. On the occasion, he urged National Reconstruction Authority to handover all the remaining task of reconstruction to local government. He also advised NRA to take forward the reconstruction of cultural heritage through consumer committee instead of contractors.

Ms. Valerie Julliand, Resident Coordinator of UN addressing the meeting, said that the commemoration of ESD reminds the importance and need of disaster preparedness. She said, "If government along with civil society and private sectors work together in minimizing the disaster risk and enhancing preparedness, Nepal could make significant progress in building disaster resilient society." She also expressed happiness over government’s various Disaster Risk Reduction efforts in Nepal.

At the program, Mr. Anil Pokhrel, Executive Chief of National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA), said that his institution, although it is newly established, is already in action and working to formulate workplans, budget and working modality and approach in line with the assigned responsibilities. He added that NDRRMA is committed to work all governments (provincial and local) and levels (private sectors, NGO and INGOs) in reducing and combating disaster risk in Nepal.

Mr. Maniram Gelal, Coordinator of ESD Publicity Sub-Committee and Director General of Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC) briefed on how National Building Code implementation is progressing in Nepal. Stressing the need of effective and stringent enforcement of National Building Code, Mr. Gelal said that significant losses of people and property can be reduced if safer construction approach is followed. On the occasion he added that DUDBC is revising various sections of NBC to make it more appropriate regarding the impact of future disasters.

Mr. Sunil Prajapati, Mayor of Bhaktapur Municipality, highlighted Municipality's efforts and progress in post-earthquake reconstruction campaign claiming that it has set an exemplary model in the country especially in terms of reconstructing cultural and historical heritages. Mayor Prajapati also vowed to implement the national building code effectively in the municipality.

Mr. Surya Narayan Shrestha, Member Secretary of ESD National Organizing Committee and Executive Director of NSET highlighted the importance of marking the ESD. Briefly highlighting the achievements in Disaster Risk Reduction so far in Nepal, Mr. Shrestha also put forth lists of tasks and priorities to be done in the days to come.

Prior to National Meeting, Earthquake Safety Rallies started from two different places of Bhaktapur district; Lamgal Pukhu and Bhajya Pukhu, with the awareness raising messages, that gathered in Bhaktapur Durbar Square to turn into Earthquake Memorial Meeting.

Earlier in the morning, separate Earthquake Memorial Meetings were held in historical Earthquake Monument at Bhugol Park, Kathmandu and Mangal Bazaar of Lalitpur.

Home Minister Mr. Ram Bahadur Thapa 'Badal' joined the Memorial Meeting in Bhugol park, Kathmandu while centenarian cultural expert, Mr. Satya Mohan Joshi was chief guest in Mangal Bazaar, Lalitpur. Together with Parliamentarians, elected Representatives from Metropolitan Cities, Security Forces and professionals from various walks of social life participated the meeting.

Nepal marks ESD every year on 15 or 16 January (Magh 2 according to Nepalese Calendar) commemorating the Great Bihar-Nepal Earthquake of 1934 by organizing various activities nationwide. The main purpose of marking this Day has been to re-affirm national commitment to enhance Earthquake Resilience of Nepali communities and also share and review past experiences & strategize further.

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