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Poor physical structures pose grave risks


KATHMANDU, Aug 31: A 6.0 Richter scale quake followed by mild aftershocks around midnight forced people out of their homes in the capital. An aftershock was felt about five minutes after the quake. The three injuries were reported, with all of them resulting from people trying to jump off their homes.

Nepalis, especially the residents of urban areas, are vulnerable to hazards from the destruction of physical infrastructures during an earthquake, said Khadga Sen Oli, an advocacy officer with the National Society for Earthquake Technology-Nepal.

Internationally, it has been found that 80 percent of people fall victim to the destruction of physical infrastructures, eight percent suffer because of the delay in rescue and the other eight percent due to lack of proper care at hospitals. Four percent victims are categorized under various reasons.

While the government has been disseminating messages urging the masses to build earthquake resistant homes, the skilled manpower to construct such structures falls terribly short. There are only around 1000 to 1200 skilled masons who can construct earthquake resistant infrastructures in the country. Of the total, 700 masons are centered in the Valley alone, 350 in Dharan and the remaining spread in other areas of the country, said Oli.

“The number is too low to be satisfied, but it has increased since the last earthquake,” said Oli. There were only 700 skilled masons in the country when the 6.8 Richter scale tremors hit Nepal in 2011, killing three people in the capital alone.
Similarly, only 46 community schools have been constructed considering earthquake resistance capacity till 2010, but today 350 schools have been retrofitted to resist the moderate jolt.

However, ensuring safety for 82,000 blocks in more 30000 schools is still a challenge, said the Director of the Department of Education (DoE) Tek Narayan Pandey.
As per the concept, communities can be reached through schools and non-government organizations are collaborating with the DoE to work on the safety part of the school, added Panedy.

To play more effective role on disaster risk reduction, the government needs to form a separate authority that specifically looks after the issue throughout the year, say experts.

“An organized team of experts need to be active to draft policies, work on risk mitigation, increase awareness and respond to significant changes,” added Oli.
Indeed the government has addressed the disaster risk reduction issue at the local level from its budget plan this year, which is a positive effort to strengthen the preparedness at ground level, said Dinesh Thapaliya, spokesperson of the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development.

The ministry has been asked to prepare a guideline to use certain amount of budget on risk reduction from the total budget allocated to VDCs.

Source: Republica


Published on 2013-09-01 02:01:39

About nirjanasharma

Nepali Journalist.

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