APR 17 –
Koshi Flood 2008
As a resident of the 30th most vulnerable country in flood and landslide, every Nepali, be it from the low land of Tarai or the hilly slopes, is prone to the disasters. The record of casualties and property loss over a decade shows there has been an improvement in disaster preparedness though there is a lot more to be done as lasting measures.
Flood and landslide have claimed 2004 lives since 2001 in addition to an estimated loss of properties worth Rs 10 billion. Thousands of people were left homeless while some 21,580 hectares of fertile land was rendered uncultivable in the period.
In 2000, flood and landslide caused huge losses of lives and infrastructure damage nationwide. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, 112 people were killed with more than 50,000 affected in the year. The massive devastation of livestock and crops remains unaccounted for.
Following the request for an emergency assistance by the government, the Japanese government had immediately decided to extend an emergency grant of $300,000 US dollars. The government was simply unprepared for the disaster, a sure thing in the fragile topography like Nepal’s. The raging armed conflict also crippled whatever mitigating mechanisms the government or the non-government sector had at their disposal.
After 10 years in 2011, floods and landslides claimed 159 lives in 70 of the 75 districts in the country within the three-month long rainy season, according to MoHA’s National Disaster Management Section. Though the government has activated several mechanisms from the centre to the ground, people’s suffering has not yet lessened.
Last year, the government recorded 62 people missing in floods and landslides whereas 2,386 people (445 families) were displaced from their home and livelihoods despite all the rescue efforts led by security personnel and volunteers. Last year, over 50 institutions, including a number of government bodies, UN agencies, Nepal Red Cross Society and district-based humanitarian organisations, were effortful to reduce the disaster risk and bolster the overall rescue system. A huge amount of money was allocated as a joint effort of UN agencies and other relief agencies.
The government is said to be greasing its rescue mechanism in affected areas in the rainy season. “But challenges remain in avoiding the magnitude of casualties. The government needs to begin its preparations before a disaster strikes,” said Rameshor Tangal, undersecretary at the MoHA Disaster Management Section.
The whole management system works as a three-phase mechanism from the centre to the local level focussing on flood and landslide related disasters. The Ministry of Local Development is responsible for the preparations, coordination with the MoHA, UN agencies, Red Cross Society and other rescue and relief agencies.
The MoHA coordinates with the stakeholders that are tasked by the MoLD with disaster response. Personnel from the Nepal Police, the Armed Police Force and the Nepal Army, aided by relief agencies, play an inevitable role in relocating victims to temporary camps, supplying food, medicines and other basic needs.
Finally, the Ministry of Physical Planning and Works, Ministry of Agriculture, National Planning Commission and the MoLD are responsible for addressing the victims’ problems in the long term. This has remained the most complex phase. Most of the victims are rural people who are directly dependent on agriculture. Several studies on impacts of natural disasters on a particular locality show that desertification of land leads these people to poverty from a decent living earned by livestock farming and agriculture. It’s the poor who are hit the hardest by such a disaster.
The havoc wreaked by the bursting of the Koshi embankment in Sunsari in 2008 is the most prominent example. The disaster affected 20,831 families, destroyed or damaged 15,000 houses, killed or injured 6,895 animals, and left 21,016 hectares of land uncultivable with an estimated loss of Rs 1.54 billion. People owning large areas of land became penniless with an abrupt end to their traditional incomes.
Source: http://www.ekantipur.com (The Kathmandu Post Daily)
Posted on: 2012-04-17 08:30