Earthquake Safe Communities in Nepal

Nepal observed 24th Earthquake Safety Day, Prime Minister stressed on coordinated efforts of all tiers of governments for building disaster resilience

Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has stressed on need to pay special attention to develop disaster resilient infrastructure in order to lessen the potential losses in future earthquakes.

Prime Minister Deuba addressed National Meeting of 24th Earthquake Safety Day (ESD) on 16 January 2022, virtually, and highlighted the need of coordinated efforts of all tiers of governments to build disaster resilience of Nepali communities. “Need is to establish coordination and cooperation among all tiers of governments to minimize the threats of natural hazards and potential disasters including earthquake, flood, landslide, fire, epidemics and others many. The local government should always remain alert regarding the proper mobilization of human resources," Prime Minister remarked.

Addressing the meeting, Home Minister Balkrishna Khand stated that the construction of robust infrastructure was imperative as country stands at high seismic risk in terms of earthquake vulnerability. Home Minister shared that the risk of earthquake would be minimized if people followed the National Building Code (NBC) in construction process of buildings and other infrastructures.

Minister for Urban Development Ram Kumari Jhankri, in her address, stressed on the need of at least one open space inside the dense settlements of the cities so that it could be used as an evacuation area and temporary shelter during the disaster situation like earthquakes. Minister Jhakri also shared her plan to create an open space in Patan area by merging the area of existing residence of central government ministers and Department of Agriculture once the existing ministerial residence moved to Bhainsepati. “Not only robust buildings, but also the awareness of related geology is must to consider for earthquake resilience”, Minister Jhakri opined.

Nepal marked 24th Earthquake Safety Day (ESD) with various events at federal, provincial, and local level with the various activities nationwide but considering current pandemic situation and hence maintaining government’s health protocols. The meeting of ESD National Organizing Committee chaired by Home Minister had identified this year’s slogan as "Earthquake Awareness for Resilient Structures". Lalitpur Metropolitan City hosted the National Meeting of the 24th Earthquake Safety Day at Patan Durbar Square on 16 January 2022 in limited physical presence as guided by health protocol. Owing to surge on Covid 19 cases in recent days, public awareness programs were organized in hybrid models, largely online with very limited physical presence. The 24th Earthquake Safety Day National Meeting was Chaired by Mayor of Lalitpur Metropolitan City (LMC), Mr. Chiribabu Maharjan. Mayor Maharjan expressed pride that LMC was the first city in the country to introduce and implement the National Building Code (NBC) and he claimed that contributed significantly to preventing loss of lives during the 2015 Gorkha Earthquake. He further said that LMC had formed disaster management committees in all wards and also pre-positioned human and physical resources required during any disaster, that could be mobilized whenever required. Mayor Maharjan added, “LMC has already formulated the policies which prohibits construction of physical structures on any public and unregistered lands.”

Mr. Anil Pokhrel, Executive Chief of National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA) shared that efforts of NDRRMA with the view to make the country safe from multiple disasters. Mr. Pokhrel remarked "NDRRMA is making various DRR plans and programs, providing trainings and DRR equipment to the provincial, district and local level Disaster Risk Reduction Management (DRRM) committees in order to make them more effective in DRRM activities." He also expressed institutional commitment to make the country resilient to disasters by 2030 as in line with the National Disaster Risk Reduction Strategic Action Plan 2018.

Coordinator of the Earthquake Safety Day Publicity Sub-committee and Director General of Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC), Mr. Padma Kumar Mainali shared that DUDBC had been committed to work for minimizing the rarthquake risk in Nepal since long. “We have been providing training to masons on safer building construction since 2001. They were proved to be as important asset as they contributed to construct earthquake resistant buildings which even withstood devastating 2015 earthquake”, Mr. Mainali remarked.

Mr. Richard Howard, UN Residential Coordinator to Nepal pointed out the need to raise community level awareness on natural disasters such as earthquake and strengthen institutionalization of risk reduction efforts.

Mr. Surya Narayan Shrestha, Member Secretary of ESD National Organizing Committee and NSET Executive Director highlighted the importance of marking the Earthquake Safety Day. Mr. Shrestha urged to contribute to disaster risk reduction and building resilient communities.

On the occasion, Prime Minister Deuba virtually inaugurated Earthquake Safety Digital Exhibition and also unvelied the 'Bipad Pustika' (Disaster Booklet) published by Lalitpur Metropolitan City.

Prior to the national meeting, a brief Earthquake Memorial Meeting was held at Earthquake Monument in Patan Durbar Square to pay tribute to those who lost their lives during the past earthquakes of 1934, 1988, 2015 and many others.

Nepal marks Earthquake Safety Day (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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