Disaster Resilient Communities in Nepal by 2050

26th Earthquake Safety Day observed in Nepal with the slogan: Let's promote use of Local Resources and Technology for Earthquake Resilient Structures

Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal, 'Prachanda,' underscored the importance of undertaking proactive measures and learning from past tragic earthquakes to avert future disasters. Speaking at a program held in Chandragiri on January 16, 2024, in commemoration of the 26th Earthquake Safety Day, Prime Minister Dahal emphasized that the construction of earthquake-resilient structures is not merely a desire but a responsibility.

"We have been organizing awareness and resolution programs every year on Earthquake Safety Day since 2055 BS, reflecting on the devastating earthquake of 1990 BS. Today marks another occasion for a national resolution to take action, ensuring that we do not endure such distress and devastation again," he stated.

The Prime Minister urged everyone to collaborate to guarantee the safety of all, with the goal of preventing any loss of life, injuries, or physical harm to families in the event of an earthquake in the days to come.

Nepal observed the 23rd Annual Earthquake Safety Day (ESD), commemorating the 1934 Nepal-Bihar Earthquake. The primary objective of observing this day is to reaffirm the national commitment to bolster the earthquake resilience of Nepali communities. Additionally, it serves as an opportunity to share and review past experiences and strategize for the future. This year's emphasis has been on tackling complex emergencies, encapsulated by the slogan "Let’s Promote the Use of Local Resources and Technology for Earthquake Resilient Structures!". Various awareness-raising events, as well as sharing and learning sessions, were conducted nationwide at the Federal, Provincial, and Local levels.

Speaking at the program, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister, Mr. Narayan Kaji Shrestha, who leads the ESD National Organizing Committee as the Chairperson, urged for collaborative efforts in disaster reduction and local resilience. Emphasizing the need for the collective involvement of all three tiers of government, he stressed the importance of working together to achieve these goals.

On the occasion, DPM Shrestha made a request for all municipalities to assess the risk of buildings and structures within their jurisdiction. "I urge a conscientious adherence to the National Building Code in the construction of new structures. Effectively implementing preparedness measures for disasters like earthquakes is equally vital for safeguarding public well-being. To ensure coordination and readiness, I appeal to local authorities and provincial governments to actively participate in this essential endeavor," stated Minister Shrestha. Also addressing the program, Ms. Sita Gurung, Minister for Urban Development, emphasized that taking precautionary actions, preparedness, and safer construction practices are necessary measures to minimize the adverse impact of recurring earthquakes in Nepal, as the series of past earthquakes have taken a huge toll on human lives and property.

"With a view to ensuring safer construction of buildings in Nepal, the Ministry for Urban Development has initiated various measures, for instance, the implementation of the National Building Code since 2055 B.S., development of Urban Planning and Building Construction Standard and Unified Settlement Development Policy in Nepal. However, efforts from the government are not enough, and it is essential to onboard all stakeholders in this regard so that the goals of making Nepal a resilient community can be achieved,” remarked Minister Gurung.

The Chair, Mr. Ghanashyam Giri, Mayor of Chandragiri Municipality and Chair of ESD Management Sub-Committee, shared the various disaster risk reduction and management efforts and initiatives that his municipality undertook under his leadership. Mayor Giri further remarked: "Our Municipality has initiated strong measures to ensure earthquake safety and preparedness. We have identified open spaces so that people can take shelter during the emergency and launched stringent implementation of National Building Code through the Building Permit system, among other things."

Chandragiri Municipality hosted the 26th ESD National Meeting on Jan 16, 2024, at Naikap Football Ground, Naikap-14, that was chaired by Mayor Ghanashyam Giri.

At the program, Mr. Anil Pokhrel, Executive Chief of the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA), shared that the primary objective of Earthquake Safety Day is raising public awareness about earthquake risk reduction and promoting the messages of construction of safe housing nationwide. The ESD has immensely contributed to promoting awareness of earthquake risk and determination towards making resilient communities in Nepal. “Nepal's distinctive efforts in this regard have been recognized by other nations, and they have also followed suit. This day reaffirms our commitment to align our policies and plans in the same direction,” remarked Mr. Pokhrel.

Addressing the 26th ESD National Meeting, Ms. Hanaa Singer-Hamdy, Representative from the Resident Coordinator of UN in Nepal, emphasized the need for linking earthquake preparedness and minimizing the loss of lives and property. She remarked: "Community awareness and education and fostering the culture of preparedness are at the heart of ensuring that we minimize the effect of future earthquakes. I believe if we introduce monthly drills in schools and offices all over the country and more so in the western region, we will be able to help people develop muscle memory needed to react swiftly and calmly when earthquakes arrive". Mr. Surendra Mohan Shrestha, Chair of ESD Publicity Sub-Committee and Director General of the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC) highlighted that the primary cause of human casualties and property loss often stems from the collapse of buildings or physical infrastructures. Hence, it is crucial to construct buildings and infrastructure that are resilient to earthquakes. He added, “DUDBC is devoted to the development and implementation of the National Building Code in Nepal to minimize the loss of lives and property during earthquakes.

Mr. Surya Narayan Shrestha, Member Secretary of ESD National Organizing Committee and Executive Director of NSET, underscored the need to continue honest efforts in Earthquake Risk Reduction based on the learnings of past events. He said, "Nepal has achieved significant progress in the past few decades in the areas of policy formulation, translation of policies into action plans, implementation, and capacity building in the field of disaster risk reduction. In accordance with the directives outlined in Nepal's constitution, the operational laws have been formulated, empowering local governments to carry out and implement these plans. As conceptualized by the new DRR policy, National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority has already been established and started to systematically carry out its functions. Recognizing these achievements, the main message of today is the commitment to move forward in a continuous, progressive, and organized manner".

Prior to the National Meeting, an Earthquake Memorial Meeting was held in Kathmandu where various stakeholders, including parliamentarians, elected representatives from Metropolitan Cities, Security Forces, and professionals from various walks of social life, participated.

Likewise, an Earthquake Safety Rally was also organized on the occasion of the 26th ESD. The rally, starting from Balambu of Chandragiri Municipality, led by Ghanashyam Giri, Mayor of Chandragiri Municipality, converted into the National Meeting. The rally was attended by various Rank and File Government Officials, Elected Representatives, Officials and Participants from various organizations including Schools, Colleges, Business Community, Non-Government Organizations, Security Personnel, Professionals & Activists of Disaster Risk Reduction, and People from the Community.

There are other events being organized on the occasion of the 26th Earthquake Safety Day.


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