Katmandu - A new disaster risk reduction initiative for Nepal was launched today by a consortium of partners that comprises the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction, other United Nations organizations, International Federation of Red Cross & Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), the Asian Development Bank and the World Bank to mark the 2009 International Day for Disaster Reduction.
“For the first time, this unique initiative brings together key partners and stakeholders in support of the Government of Nepal and engages them in a number of concrete actions to make hospitals and schools safer as well as to reduce considerably people’s exposure to future natural disasters, ” says Margareta Wahlström, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, who launched the initiative today in the presence of the Right Honourable Prime Minister of Nepal, His Excellency Mr. Madhav Kumar Nepal, and heads of UN agencies, the Asian Development Bank, the World Bank and other members of the consortium.
Nepal is one of the 20 most disaster-prone countries in the world and this new initiative is proposed to respond to the increasing risks of natural disasters that, along with growing population densities, will exacerbate further the vulnerability of thousands of inhabitants living in the valleys.
This Disaster Risk Reduction initiative for Nepal reflects the priorities of the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters (HFA), a ten-year plan of action adopted in 2005 to substantially reduce human and economic disaster losses. The initiative also follows the main recommendations of the 2009 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction, held in Geneva last June. The Global Platform has set specific targets for increased school and hospital safety in order to reduce the losses that stem from disasters and it calls for greater investment in disaster risk reduction.
The disaster risk reduction initiative for Nepal will focus on five main areas: The first component includes a structural and non-structural vulnerability assessment of all schools and hospitals in the Kathmandu Valley; and the physical retrofit and seismic strengthening of school and hospital buildings. The theme of "Hospitals Safe from Disasters” was used for the 2008-09 UNISDR World Disaster Reduction campaign that culminates today. The Campaign aims at ensuring people’s access to functioning health facilities during and after natural disasters.
The second component seeks to increase emergency preparedness and the response capacity of the government and other organisations who serve as first responders in the wake of natural disasters, through better information, stockpiling of emergency supplies, planning and management.
The third part focuses on improving flood management in the Koshi River Basin, one of the largest river basins in South Asia. Flooding in the Koshi River Basin severely impacts communities in Nepal as well as those across the border in Bihar, India. The main activity areas proposed under this plan target flood risk assessment, structural measures, flood forecasting and an early warning system.
The fourth part proposes to scale up disaster risk management (DRM) to enhance local level risk assessment methodologies; improve the reliability and geographical coverage of community based early warning systems; increase preparedness and mitigation actions; develop community capacity in local level risk reduction action; and undertake vulnerability reduction measures.
The fifth and final component focuses on building institutional capacity; setting up financial mechanisms towards risk reduction and risk management; and mainstreaming disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation into development planning.
Programme implementation will be led by the Government of Nepal in coordination with the consortium members and is estimated to cost USD 134.8 million.