Earthquake Safe Communities in Nepal

National Symposium under Earthquake Safety Day discourses on enhancing Earthquake Safety and building Community Resilience in Nepal

Under the 22nd Earthquake Safety Day (ESD), National Symposium on Earthquake Risk Reduction and Management in Nepal has been held in Kathmandu on January 27, 2020. The Symposium discoursed on issues of Building Code implementation, Post-Earthquake Reconstruction and Future Directions of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management in Nepal.

Addressing the brief inaugural session, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) Mr. Sushil Gyewali wished to handover all the accomplishments achieved and experiences gained in the course of Post-Earthquake Reconstruction to the nation with the view to help build our communities resilient to future disasters. Mr. Gyewali remarked, "NRA is currently developing an exit strategy as its 5 year- tenure expires at the end of this year. NRA is going to organize a series of Symposiums and also International Conference in November 2020”. Mr. Anil Pokhrel, Chief Executive of National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA) shared his experience and progress made so far after being appointed him as head of NDRRMA. Mr. Pokhrel also shared the plan, programs and strategic directions of the Authority. “Authority is to lead the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management works at various level, from National to Provincial to Local to Community level; but the fact again is that this is a collective effort and we will collaborate with all the stakeholders”, Mr. Pokhrel remarked. Mr. Sunil Prajapati, Mayor of Bhaktapur Municipality, briefed about the efforts and progress of post-earthquake reconstruction with major focus on reconstruction of heritage in the Municipality as the reconstruction of historical and cultural heritage is considered exemplary in Bhaktapur. Mayor Prajapati also sought coordination and financial assistant of National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) in the accomplishment of remaining tasks of the heritage reconstruction in Bhaktapur.

Ms. Valerie Julliand, Resident Coordinator of UN expressed happiness over the ongoing efforts of Government of Nepal (GoN) and Civil Society Organizations in reducing the Disaster Risk Reduction in Nepal. She further added that her organization is working jointly with GoN and other stakeholders in DRR sectors in Nepal and will continue to work in collaboration.

Dr. Som Nath Sapkota, Director General of Department of Mine and Geology (DMG), highlighted various efforts that DMG has carried out in the past year regarding identifying and communicating earthquake hazards in Nepal.

From the Chair, Mr. Ramchandra Dangal, Deputy Director General of Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC) briefed about various efforts that DUDBC is working with in the past one years. Arguing that constructing structures resilient to earthquakes is important aspect of preparedness, Mr. Dangal remarked, “DUDBC is in the process of reviewing various sections of National Building Code with view to enhancing the strength of buildings and infrastructures so that it could withstand the earthquakes in the future.

To begin with, Mr. Surya Narayan Shrestha, Executive Director, NSET briefed about the objectives of the National Symposium which is being organized in Nepal as part of ESD since past 22 years. He also highlighted the significance of the program as it has been a forum for various stakeholders involved in DRR sectors in Nepal for sharing their efforts, activities and experiences, to discourse and develop consensus on burning issues of DRR and to devise common plan for future work plans.

At the program, various experts and professionals form government and civil society sectors highlighted the need of collaborative and integrated efforts of all the stakeholders including all tiers of governments, civil society organizations and private sectors in reducing the disaster risk that country is facing. The symposium intensively discussed on the various issues of earthquake risk reduction and safer reconstruction and reviewed the efforts on reconstruction, risk reduction and preparedness.

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. The Symposium is targeted for policy makers, decision makers, central and local government authorities, implementer, academia, practitioners, various social groups and communities.

In this year’s Symposium, there were three thematic sessions conducted:

Thematic Session TS1: Panel Discussion on Implementation of Building Code in Nepal: Status, Challenges and Way Forward

Session Chair: Mr. Mani Ram Gelal, DG, DUDBC

Panelists:
• Ms. Rajani Joshi, Deputy Mayor, Bhaktapur Municipality
• Mr. Ram Chandra Dangal, Deputy Director General, DUDBC
• Prof. Dr. Prem Nath Maskey, Institute of Engineering (IOE) / Team Leader for Building Code Revision 2019
• Mr. Surya Narayan Shrestha, Executive Director, NSET
• Dr. Soma Nath Sapkota, Director General, Department of Mines and Geology
• Mr. Pradip Poudel, Engineer, Lalitpur Metropolitan City

Session Facilitator: Prakash Ghimire (Journalist)

Thematic Session TS2: Panel Discussion on Post-earthquake Reconstruction: Current Status, Challenges and Potentials

Session Chair: Dr. Amod Mani Dixit, General Secretary, NSET

Panelists:
• Dr. Chandra Bahadur Shrestha, Executive Committee Member, NRA
• Er. Nava Raj Pyakurel, Director, CLPIU (Building), DUDBC/NRA
• Mr. Jagannath Nepal, Chief, District Coordination Committee, Dhading
• Dr. Ramesh Guragain, Deputy Executive Director, NSET
• Ms. Jharna Joshi, Independent Consultant, Heritage Conservation
• Mr. Prabin Bajracharya, UN Habitat

Facilitator: Laxman Karki (Journalist)

Thematic Session TS3: Panel Discussion on Future Direction of Disaster Risk Reduction & Management in Nepal

Session Chair: Dr. Gangalal Tuladhar, DRR Expert and Former Minister of Education

Panelists:
• Mr. Anil Pokhrel, Chief Executive, NDRRMA
• Mr. Surya Bahadur Thapa, President, DPNet
• SP Jay Bahadur Khadka, Armed Police Force (APF)
• Ms. Lorena Lando, Chief of Misson, IOM

The Symposium was organized jointly by DUDBC, Bhaktapur Municipality and NSET in association with various government and non-government organizations. More than 200 persons representing different DRR stakeholders, professionals, teachers and students participated the program. The Symposium Proceedings will be shared once finalized.

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