Nepal lost over Rs. 40 billion due to disasters in 40 years

Experts, lawmakers, government officials and civil society leaders
working on disaster preparedness have called for timely efforts to set
up effective early warning systems and plans to manage the risks posed
by various disasters recurrent in Nepal.

In a Dialogue Series organized by UNDP and Society of Economic
Journalist of Nepal (SEJON) on Tuesday the speakers revealed that
Nepal's growth rate is at stake due to disaster risks, which has led
to annual average economic loss of around Rs 1 billion. Key note
presenter for the programme, Mr. Amod Mani Dixit, Executive Director
of Nepal Earthquake for Earthquake Technology (NSET) cited facts from
his recent study that Nepal suffered a loss over Rs. 40 billion due to
disasters while 32,802 individuals lost their lives and around one
third of the country's population (6.95 million) were affected in the
period between 1971 to 2013. The financial loss alone speaks volumes
about why we should worry about natural hazards and disaster risks,
said Dixit.

In her opening address, Sophie Kemkhadze, UNDP Country Director, a.i.
shed light on the importance of disaster risk management and its
inherent linkages with human and economic development. She said that
the concurrent discussions on Post-2015 frameworks on Disaster Risk
Reduction (DRR) and the Sustainable Development Goals provide us a
unique opportunity - To firmly link development with understanding of,
and reducing disaster risks, and also to ensure that disaster risk
reduction is a key component of development and not an afterthought.
"Development discussion in Nepal cannot be complete unless the
discourses integrate on disaster risk management. As Nepal is aspiring
to upgrade to the status of developing nation by 2022, this is a high
time thoroughly focus on this agenda as economic prosperity is not
secured unless disaster risk management is strengthened," she said.

Speakers also noted that of other many indicators the country needs to
meet the economic vulnerability index is the one which is closely
associated with disaster risk management and this matters
significantly when it comes to Nepal's graduation to developed status.

Speakers stressed on the need for putting equal emphasis and priority
in mitigating risks associated with extensive disasters which account
for 81% of the total deaths (19% associated with intensive disasters)
and other impacts so far since 1971. They pointed out to the fact lack
of a legislation on disaster risk management should not be a pretext
for inaction. "What we need today is awareness at all levels that
disaster preparedness, such as building code implementation is not for
the purpose of revenue generation but for safety," said Dixit.

The audience had pointed questions for the panellists. President of
National Network of Community Disaster Management Committee Nepal
Jagannath Pd. Kurmi asked the panellists whether they could guarantee
that the disaster victims would be provided with relief irrespective
of their links with the political leaders and ministers, which, he
said, was the case in recent disasters. "Where the victims have not
even received basic relief, the provision of early warning system and
preparedness is a big challenge," he said. Bhakta Bahadur Shahi from
Surkhet asked why the disaster victims have not been provided with
relief even months after the disaster. He pointed out that many people
are still living in tents in the flood affected district.

The panellists had in their deliberations recommended a coherent set
of guidelines for relief and response which could address such issues.
One of the panellists, Bishnu Kharel form Care Nepal had presented on
the lessons learned from the recent disasters and recommended some
concrete actions to ensure better preparedness plans and
relieve/rescue measures.

Other speakers during the interaction include Honorable Mr. Resham
Bahadur Lama, CA Member and Coordinator of Chure Conservation
Sub-Committee and member of Environment Conservation Committee
(Parliamentary Committee), Mr. Shanmukesh Amatya from Department of
Water Induced Disaster Prevention (DWIDP), Mr. Bishnu Kharel from Care
Nepal, Ms. Sarah Blin, Country Director, Handicap International, Ms.
Ritva Lahti, Country Representative, Nepal, International Federation
of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

Dialogue Series is part of UNDP's attempt to generate debate on
development challenges facing Nepal. We have been collaborating with
local partners in organizing the Dialogue Series since early 2013.

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