Earthquake Safe Communities in Nepal

International Webinar on “Addressing Multi-hazard Risks in context of Covid-19: A Global Perspective" held

NSET hosted "International Webinar: Addressing Multi-hazard Risk in context of Covid-19: A Global Perspective" on June 22, 2020. The Webinar discussed on the emerging issues related to DRR and the possible consequences as well as risk reduction measures of complex emergency in coincidence with COVID-19. The Webinar has offered recommendations for working in DRR to address multiple hazards while responding to COVID-19.

The Webinar brought together a panel of prominent speakers from various countries with different backgrounds related to disaster risk reduction and discussed how the current COVID-19 experiences impact the future planning of DRR sector.

International Webinar

The speakers have stressed on the followings:

» COVID-19 has brought the need of "Localization" and "Proactive Response". The importance of ‘Localization’ has been realized more than ever before.
» Some adjustments in Standards are seemingly needed after COVID-19 experience.
» Need is to continue enhancing risk communication and awareness raising.
» Focus should be on process, not only on results.
» Evidence shows communities who were prepared could better respond Amphan Cyclone.
» The continuum of health services is challenging but must.
» More researches required focusing on multi hazard response including social aspects.
» Leave no one behind, people at last mile should be reached.
» We should strengthen and support local actions, and also continue learning from around the world.
» Rather than changing the approach, deepen and scale up your works in Nepal (suggestion for NSET)

As a Keynote speaker, Dr. Manu Gupta, Co-Founder, SEEDS, India and Executive Member ADRRN talked on "How to deal with Multi hazards in COVID-19 situations, and role of Government and Civil Society Organizations for new normal?" Dr. Manu highlighted the impact on people with ongoing pandemic and the cyclone have several times more, while people were already depending upon external support mainly for food, and as cyclone hit, they lost all supports. Situation got much worse. need to maintain health care continuum in the complex scenario, what might be challenging but necessary. Dr. Manu mentioned the importance of "Localization" has been more than ever before. "More empowerment of local leaders, more responding, sensitive actions we will be making" he remarked. Dr. Manu pointed certain changes, particularly some adjustments needed in standards after COVID-19 experience.

Another Keynote Speaker Mr. Kendra Hirata, Director of Programs, CITYNET Yokohama, Japan talked on "How cities can get better prepared for pandemic like covid-19 in conjunction with threats of Multi hazards?" Mr. Hirata shared three success stories of model cities handling COVID-19 pandemic from Seoul, Taipei & Iloilo, Philippines. Korea approach focused on United Actions, and Innovative technology used Science based and Speed response. Taipei adopted early actions, advanced deployment. Multi-hazard approach of Iloilo city focused to multi-hazard map, regular training workshop, all citizen and mayors trained to handle multi-hazard cases and also proposed reorganization of the City level DRRM Council and its plans.

Mr. Hirata mentioned key priorities for way forward:

» Enhance risk communication and awareness raising,
» Develop alternative work place practices and communication patterns,
» Plan targeted measures for vulnerable groups,
» Ensure local service delivery, WASH, waste, etc,
» Ensure alternate education program and
» Focus on process not only in results.

There were speakers sharing experiences from Bangladesh, Pakistan and Nepal.

From Bangladesh, Deputy Executive Director of COAST Trust Mr. Sanat K. Bhowmik shared "Experience from Bangladesh to respond to Cyclone Amphan in times of COVID-19". Mr. Bhowmik shared field experience of dealing with COVID-19 and super cyclone Amphan.

Mr. Bhowmik shared following:

» Cyclone Amphan impacted in farmlands, crops and vegetables in 5 districts in coastal areas,
» 2.4Million people kept in shelters, maintaining social distancing and hand washing mandatory. PPEs distributed. But challenge in many places had been social distancing and Mask requirements
» Good example is that some communities could respond cyclone without any external support.

From Pakistan, Dr. Farhan Khalid, Registrar/ Team Leader, DRF-PAK Emergency Services Academy, Rescue 1122/ Punjab Emergency Service (PES) shared on "Responding COVID-19 by Rescue 1122 in Pakistan: Lessons learned and challenges."

Dr. Khalid shared following:

» Rescue 1122 is the largest emergency service of Pakistan, providing fire and ambulance rescue services.
» New phenomenon is the biggest disaster which overwhelmed health case and produced great amount of challenge among health care professionals.
» Rescue 1122 developed Response Plan, SOP, Guideline and also standardized PPE for health care and frontline professionals
» Government has given four main functions to Rescue 1122; helpline services to community, shift CORONA patients to hospital & quarantines, testing facilities and management of COVID-19 dead bodies.

From Nepal, Mr. Surya Narayan Shrestha, Executive Director of NSET shared the "Experiences from Nepal to respond to COVID-19". Mr. Shrestha shared that most of quarantines are maintained by Local governments and they are taking charge of tracing and relief as well, while the challenge they are facing is lack of testing capacity and medical response at local level.

Mr. Surya Narayan Shrestha stressed on following:

» There is the need of City to City Exchange that would help build better understanding to deal with the threat.
» More researches are required on multi hazard response including social aspects.
» We need to improve & modify existing concepts like Earthquake Go Bag that should consider multiple hazards including COVID-19, and trainings that NSET conducts may need to incorporate new threats.

In the Webinar, noted academicians as well as DRR professionals and practitioners had shared their reflections and experiences on aspects of addressing multi-hazard risks in COVID-19 situations.

Professor Alexander Densmore from Institute of Hazard, Risk, and Resilience and Department of Geography, Durham University, UK shared about new project ‘Risks from the Mountain Hazard Chain: Research in the wake of the Pandemic’ with the name 'Sajag Nepal'. Sajag aims to improve decision making and preparedness to mitigate impact with the objective to understand multi-hazard in full context of risk and development. Focus is to assist in developing national level preparedness plan for multi-hazard, national/ municipality level multi-hazard plan and finding new ways of responding multi-hazard.

Prof. Cui Peng, Academician (Member) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences and Co-Director General of China-Pakistan Joint Research Center on Earth Sciences gave his perspectives based on experience of China to contain COVID-19. Prof. Peng shared that all the work are done by community, local residents, neighbors in the time of lockdown, as they are the responsible persons for implementing and enforcing rules to control the spread by following the social distancing restrictions. He shared that the results are different in aware and unaware communities. "We need to empower our communities, Prof. Peng stressed, 'it is a joint effort of community and government'.

Dr. Amod Mani Dixit, Chairperson of ADRRN and General Secretary of NSET shared that Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are working across the disaster cycles from policy support & knowledge management to risk reduction/mitigation and preparedness to response, recovery, reconstruction and rehabilitation. Dr. Dixit mentioned that ADRRN is working with the aim to ‘Make the Decade Counts’. Thousands of CSOs from different regions are responding COVID-19, responding, and serving local government, serving the local community in this difficult time of unheard and unseen Pandemic. "Leave no one behind, people at last mile should be reached. Social protection practice measures should be identified for different vulnerable groups", Dr. Dixit emphasized.

Mr. Loy Rego from MARS Practitioners Network, India spoke on What NSET should consider in light of COVID-19?" Mr. Rego emphasized need to "embrace other changes globally but not move away from your focused target, help and catalyze their achievements" and said that "NSET needs realignment of its Nepal targets and frameworks, situated in the Great Himalayan Belt, Nepal on all hazards, and in Asia, for the next 23 years till its Golden Jubilee in 2043 and beyond."

The Webinar was moderated by NSET Deputy Executive Director Dr. Ramesh Guragain. He asked speakers to focus on potential roles of Governments and Civil Society Organizations (CSO) for the new normal.

In the beginning, Dr. Guragain had highlighted the objectives of this international webinar:

» Discuss on the possible consequences and risk reduction measures of complex emergency in coincidence with COVID-19
» Highlight the learnings and experiences on responding to COVID 19 and other disasters in the context of COVID 19
» Discuss on the role of Governments and CSOs for the new normal

178 Participants from various parts of the globe joined the talk. Some queries and suggestions as well as ideas shared by participants where speakers had few more additions.

At the end, NSET Executive Director Mr. Surya Narayan Shrestha synthesized the proceedings of webinar and also extended, on behalf of organizer, sincere gratitude and thanks to all the speakers and participants for their contribution and time.

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