MAPPING DISASTERS AND THEIR RESPONSE IN NEPAL
Disaster remains as one of the leading causes of substantial loss of lives and livelihoods. Despite
invention of new technology and measures taken by the states and international arrangements,
many lives are lost by disaster hazards globally than ever before. The damages associated with
natural disasters are mostly manifestations of social inequalities and injustices. Violation of human
rights during disasters is becoming a matter of serious concern globally, yet they remain largely
The seriousness of impacts of disasters is reflected in a recent study which ranks Nepal, in terms of
relative vulnerability to earthquakes, as the eleventh most at risk country in the world, and thirtieth
to floods. Another report classifies Nepal as one of the global ‘hot-spots’ for natural disasters. The
DesInventar database in Nepal prepared for 1971-2003, shows the trend of one disaster event with
two resultant deaths occurring every day over this period.
Every year, thousands of families are rendered homeless by natural disasters and their inefficient
management. When any hazard strikes, it is the communities who react first, irrespective of status,
class, caste, ethnicity, or culture. However, a clear pattern in terms of whom they impact most is
undeniable. Their brutality seems to befall upon certain social groups who are categorized as poor
and excluded people.
An effective disaster response is important to minimize the effects on members of society,
especially those who traditionally bear the maximum brunt. It, above all, involves strengthening
the capacity (primarily) of the vulnerable groups and victims from former disasters so that they can
observe, understand, analyze and prepare themselves for the worst impact. It is also essential to
allow transparency of actions of the donor agencies working towards disaster risk reduction and to
encourage communities to get involved, so that when disasters strike, communities do not have to
wait for primary help from outside.
This paper seeks to map disasters in Nepal, prevalent response strategies, and a way forward based
on previous experiences.
B. DISASTER OVERVIEW IN NEPAL
Nepal is a disaster prone zone with incidence of widespread disasters across the country around the
year. Nepal’s topography, climate, and lack of proper infrastructure planning make her extremely
vulnerable to various forms of disaster. Severity of disasters is evident by the exponential rise in
frequency of natural and anthropogenic catastrophes, their impacts on national economy, and
subsequent loss of lives and individual wealth. Major disasters in Nepal are flood, landslide, fire,
earthquake, drought, epidemic and insurgency with increased sporadic problems of storm,
hailstorm, avalanches and stampede.
People living in a country like Nepal also cope with uncertain climatic changes, which are further
leading to slow and rapid onset of disasters every year. Villagers’ livelihood systems somehow are
built acknowledging the common threats, but their local knowledge of adaptation cannot cope with
the rigorous climate changes happening all over the world. It is now beyond the conventional local
2. adaptation knowledge. However, when they survive the hardships they rehabilitate their houses,
terraces and natural resource base - a task that may continue for several years after the disaster.
And those who cannot cope are forced to abandon their ancestral homes, migrate to either more
hazardous areas or to the towns and cities with new forms of livelihoods constraints.
The heavy rain and storm during the monsoon and long drought in the dry season are the major
risks of rural people in the Terai. Its consequences are fear, danger, and accidents, injuries, and
lose of property. It also reduces the psychological strength of the people. The risks are also
increasing due to the poor institutional set-up and poor capacity of the community.
Poor and unemployed people living near the disaster-prone areas are the most vulnerable to
disasters; who despite knowing the danger cannot afford to move out. Among them, pregnant
women, disable people, aged, children, and those already displaced by landslides and floods top
the ranks. They generally reside by the riverside, in public land, and in the laps of hills because
they at one point were displaced from their land.
As per the Ministry of Home Affairs, 19,675 persons lost their lives due to various types of
disasters from 1983 to 1999. In spite of long and sustained advocacy efforts, different development
programs and disaster preparedness projects showed very reactive approach towards managing
disasters in Nepal. They try to respond to visible effects of disasters without acknowledging the
underlying causes that create ideal conditions for the disaster to strike.
The underlying causes are not simply the root causes, since there is no single starting point (root)
for disaster in Nepal. Additionally, in view of the complexities and diversities of disaster
management in Nepal, a concrete, effective and applicable policy is needed for which political
commitment and a pragmatic policy formulation is a must.
C. RECURRENT DISASTERS IN NEPAL
The high mountains and the Himalayan range of Nepal are young mountain chain. They stretch
almost 2,500 KM in the east - west direction fall under the seismically active zone which is
considered as the result of subduction of the Indian plate under the Tibetan plate. Due to the Indian
plate moving towards the north, Nepal, located between India and Tibet is a seismic area and has a
long record of destructive earthquakes. Highly destructive earthquakes had already rocked Nepal.
According to a record, in the last 700 years, nine major earthquakes had already occurred in the
Himalayas, for example, Kangra-India 1905, Bihar-Nepal 1934, Assam-India 1950, Nepal 1988
etc. Vulnerability in urban and rural areas from earthquake will not be the same because of
variations in concentration of population, quantity and quality of houses/ physical constructions
and availability of response options. Kathmandu valley and urban areas are more vulnerable due to
the population density and unsafe houses.
Flood, landslide and debris flow
There are more than 6,000 rivers and streams in Nepal. Most of them flow from north to south,
generally with high velocity due to high river gradient. Most of the big rivers are snow-fed which
originate from the Himalayan range. The landslide and flood are the most destructive types of
disasters in Nepal. Three quarter of the total land area is hilly and many villages are situated on or
adjacent to the unstable hill slopes. As a result, landslide and flood with debris flow occurs.
Unplanned settlements and physical constructions without due consideration to the natural hazards
are considerably aggravating the mountain environment.
3. On the other hand, the landslide add enormous load to the streams and rivers causing flood and
debris flow downstream. Each year such types of disasters cause the losses of a number of human
life and immense damages to agricultural land, crops, human settlements and other physical
properties. For instance, in July 1993 Nepal experienced a devastating flood in the Terai region of
Nepal which killed 1,336 and affected 487,534 people. In 1998, flood and landslide were severe in
various parts of the country, mainly the Terai and the middle hill. This disaster claimed 273 human
lives, injured 80 people and killed 982 cattles. Besides, 33,549 families were affected, 13,990
houses and 1244 cattle sheds were destroyed and 45 thousand ha of land and agricultural crops
were ruined. The caused the total loss of about NRs 2 billion. In 1999, flood and landslide also
killed 193 people while the corpses of 47 people could not be found and 91 people were seriously
injured. In this disaster 8,844 families were affected, 3,507 houses and cattle sheds were destroyed
and 177.32 ha of land and agricultural crops were cleaned out. The disaster caused a total loss of
about NRs 360.11 million.
Fire disaster occurs mainly in the dry season from April to June. During this season the
temperature in the Terai region rises above 35° Celsius and it hardly ever rains. Fire disaster takes
place mostly in the rural areas of Terai and the middle hill region. As 90.8 percent of the total
population live in the rural areas in a very poor housing condition fire hazards are common. The
houses of the rural areas especially of the Terai areas are usually very close to each other and are
made up of straw or reeds and timber which are easily caught by fire. In 1999 fire disaster claimed
the life of 39 people injuring 10. The number of affected families reached up to 1,065 destroying
1,035 houses and 52 cattle sheds. The number of livestock loss was 148. The total loss has been
estimated to be about NRs 45.23 millions.
In most cases the epidemic of cholera, gastroenteritis, encephalitis, meningitis, typhoid, jaundice,
malaria, just to mention a few, occur during summer and rainy seasons. This type of disaster occurs
mainly due to the lack of proper health care and sanitation. In 1999, over 1,200 people died of
epidemics and 6,119 families were affected in various parts of the country.
As the northern part of the country is covered with snow peaks, avalanche is very common and
sometimes it claims the life of human being as well. The avalanche of November, 1995 killed 43
people including some foreign trekkers at Khumbu and Kanchanjungha areas. In 2 January 1999, 5
people were swept away by the avalanche that occurred in Chunchet Village Development
Committee Ward No. 8 of Gorkha district.
Glacier Lake Outburst Flood (GLOF)
In the Himalayan region of Nepal glacier lakes are common. A total of 159 glacial lakes have been
found in Koshi basin and 229 in Tibetan Arun basin. Among them 24 are potentially dangerous.
The areas like: Upper Barun, Lower Barun, Chamlangtsho, Tsho Rolpa, Sabou, Dudh Kunda,
Majang, Inja, Thulari have potentially dangerous glacier lakes. These lakes contain huge volume of
water and remain in unstable condition, as a result, they can burst any time and a natural
catastrophe may cause loss of life and physical property. About 14 such glacier-induced floods
have already been experienced from 1935 to 1991.
Windstorm, thunderbolt and hailstorm
Windstorm occurs mainly during the dry season from March to May. Thunderbolt occurs during
the monsoon and hailstorm takes place in the beginning and end of the monsoon. Hailstorm causes
4. heavy losses of agricultural crops though human loss is seldom. Windstorm and thunderbolt causes
loss of human life as well as physical property. This year (1999) windstorm and thunderbolt killed
22 and injured 37. The disaster killed 50 cattle heads, destroyed 85 houses and cattle sheds and
affected 348 families causing a total loss of about NRs 7.2 million.
Some parts of the country face the problem of drought. Uneven and irregular monsoonal rainfall is
the main cause. The mountainous region (the northern belt) of Nepal is generally dry. Lack of
irrigation facilities makes the problem even more serious as prolonged drought condition has
adverse effect in crop production. The drought of 1994 affected 35 districts of the country
destroying the agricultural crops cultivated in about 157, 628 hectares of land.
Political conflict and insurgencies
The official closure of civil conflict in Nepal saw new forms of conflict in the Terai. This conflict
is extremely unpredictable in itself. Even if it was predictable it would still not be easy to predict
humanitarian impacts or the obstacles to effective responses. The unofficial figure of the
displacement from the People's War is at least two hundred thousand people within a period of
twelve years and loss of lives hovers around 14,000. Immediate response on it might be the
exploration of the situation and impact of conflicts on the lives of poor and excluded groups.
D. IMPACTS OF DISASTERS
Thousands of families every year are being homeless due to natural disasters, mostly poor families.
Since they usually live in the disaster prone areas due to socio economic conditions; it is obvious
that they are more victimized. It is because most of the people are forced to settle in the banks of
rivers as the land price is comparatively less or can be occupied temporarily without much hassle.
Women are even more affected because they have to go for collecting firewood, fodder and grass
from nearby forests. Settlement in the hazard/risk affected area without taking any preventive
measures (using poor construction materials), haphazard use of land for agriculture and other
activities, and depletion of natural resources (for example, forest) in Churia (causing heavy soil
erosion and landslides) also invite disaster risks.
The disaster consequences can be categorized in two ways: erosion of livelihood options and
denial of human rights. Most part of rural areas are often inhabited by low income groups
dependent upon agriculture, livestock, daily wage, forest products, small business, and service for
their livelihoods. Once disasters occur people are mere dependent (for a long time) of outside
source in absence of community safety nets and weak government infrastructure and support
systems. Neither do they usually have alternative sets of skill to begin elsewhere from scratch.
Due to the socio-economic condition and lack of awareness among people, they are not been able
to cope with hazards. As the hazard increases, vulnerability also increases due to the multiple
effects of the previous hazards. Thousands of families are rendered landless and displaced, forced
to settle in the public lands.
Denial of Rights is also a consequence of disaster. Though, International human rights law does
not speak explicitly about the right to protection and relief from disasters, but it is clearly implied.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights says in article 3, 'Everyone has the right to life,
liberty, and security of person.' Article 25 says:
'Everyone has the right to standard of living adequate for the health and well-
being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical
care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of
5. unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, or old age or other lack of
livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.'
The tables below show the numerical impacts of disasters:
Direct losses due to Earthquakes (1970-2003):
Item Number Value of direct losses (NR)
Total number of events 22
Buildings Destroyed 33,706 8,200,838,000
Buildings Damaged 55,234 1,309,606,450
Livestock death 2,215 11,075,000
Total loss at present value (NR) 9,566,605,507
Average loss per year due to earthquake 289,897,136
Loss estimates (2001-07):
People House Destroyed Land Loss
Year Death Missing Injured Animal Loss omp. Partly
2001 173 95 120 15348 796 5229 0 369 520
2002 196 45 88 7901 377 2995 939 212 0
2003 441 21 265 38859 2024 13956 4204 771 0
2004 232 58 76 7167 865 2683 334 174 0
2005 131 11 24 14238 495 2552 1132 143 0
2006 141 20 31 2088 360 1090 12 49 0
2007 114 30 39 18385 9980 2946 388 1300 7378
Source: Ministry of Home Affairs, Division of Disaster Management
Disaster Losses in Nepal during 1971 – 2006 (37 Years):
1 DROUGHT 1 - 1,512 - - 329,332 - 10
2 EARTHQUAKE 873 6,842 4,539 33,710 63 - 2,257 22.8337+50
3 EPIDEMIC 15,529 37,773 323,896 - - 1 78 0
4 FIRE 1,081 735 218,128 62,634 2,762 352 113,922 6,244
5 FLOOD 2,864 349 3,315,781 70,115 1,041 196,955 31,117 3,713
6 FOREST FIRE 24 13 10,178 1,698 18 3,173 82 1,031
7 LANDSLIDE 3,899 1,188 480,069 16,779 1,209 21,797 9,046 835
8 OTHER 2,385 2,670 360,725 3,917 388 290,323 79,935 2,030
TOTAL 26,656 49,570 4,715,828 188,875 5,482 841,954 236,459 13,885
Note: The number "o" does not mean that the events were occurred but are unreported.
6. E. ACTORS IN DISASTER MANAGEMENT
After the evidence of Asian Tsunami and mandate from WCDR II Disaster Management has
become the talk of Development Organizations and DRR issues are taken as an intervention menu
of NGOs in Nepal. However, it still remains a token of the resources available. Out of 25 bilateral/
multilateral donor agencies functioning in Nepal only 6/7 (USAID, JICA, DFID, EU, AusAid,
ICRC and World Bank) have been involved in Emergency and Disaster Management. Similarly,
out of 160 INGOs in Nepal only 20 have incorporated Emergency and Disaster Management as an
intervention sector. However, the portion allocated for preparedness and DRR is negligible
compared to investment in other humanitarian response. An unofficial estimate made in 2006/2007
revealed that about 40 million Rupees invested for pre disaster DM/DRR works and 160 million
Rupees spent per year for the emergency response and recovery purpose since last 5 years flood in
Nepal by Government, non government and international community. It shows resource is not a
constraint, but prioritizing it still is a problem. Here are some prominent agencies involved in
Emergency and Disaster Management sector; pre, post and during the disaster.
In each district, a CDO under the instruction of Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) acts as the
disaster manager at the time of natural disasters. S/he is responsible to formulate national policies
and plans for implementation; prepare preparedness plans and mitigation measures; involve in
immediate rescue and relief works; have a plan to conduct data collection work and dissemination
to relevant agencies, and manage and distribute funds to the DNDRC during peak emergency
period. Realizing the urgency of an executive organization, Ministry of Home constituted a new
Section to deal in disaster towards the end of the Ninth Plan (1997 –02), then called Department of
Narcotics Control and Disaster Management. This is the central and highest government authority
in the implementation of the disaster response program in Nepal.
The MoLD is responsible to build the capacity of local bodies; support in preparing plans and
policies for better management of local areas; promote the role of local government in the
provision of small infrastructure such as agricultural roads and small-scale river training work; and
mobilize the local bodies in the distribution of the relief materials. District Development
Committee (DDC) and Village Development Committee (VDC) have been responding to the
disaster situations at district level. In the recent days, it has started coordination with local NGOs
and donor agencies to manage relief operations.
Department of Water Induced Disaster Prevention (DWIDP) is establish in order to carryout
activities related to water-induced disaster prevention and management such as river training,
landslides and slope protection, mitigate and manage the damages caused by water-induced
disasters (such as flood, landslides, soil and bank erosion, debris flow) and to protect
infrastructures, land, properties and lives (JICA is also supporting this initiative).
The Divisional Irrigation Office implements local level flood mitigation activities through
Irrigation and River Training Committees (IRTC). These committees are headed by Chief District
Officers (CDOs). IRTC has provision for Chief District Officer as chairperson with memberships
of Local Development Officer, DDC Representatives, District Agriculture Development Officer,
District Forests Officer, District Soil Conservation Officer, and District Irrigation Engineer.
Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management (DSCWM) contributes to flood
mitigation through soil conservation and watershed management, which are critical in promoting
flood impact mitigation. It also is the main implementing agency for the execution of 'watershed
management policy'. The roles of DSCWM are to involve in the formulation of plan, policies and
legislations; prepare the simple guideline for the execution of the activities like gully control, trail
improvement, small-scale irrigation and drinking water system to conserve watershed of upper
catchments; and implement the activities such as social and gender development; agro-farming,
enterprises development and community forestry program in an integrated approach.
7. The role of Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM) is to establish river-gauging
stations to monitor the situation of rivers, carry out study by sampling of suspended sediments and
introduce hydro-meteorological stations. Apart from these, it also develops measures for flood
forecasting system through systematic data collection using GIS and hydrological modeling tools
and provides relevant flood related data to India and Bangladesh for detail analysis.
Bilateral, Research and Relief Institutions
The role of the bilateral organizations such as Japan International Cooperation agency (JICA),
United Nation Development Programme (UNDP), United State Agency for International
Development (USAID) and Technical Cooperation of the Federal Republic of Germany (GTZ) is
to provide technical backstopping to the agencies involved in the disaster management.
The research institutions like Asian Disaster Reduction Centre (ADRC), Asian Disaster
Preparedness Centre (ADPC) and International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development
(ICIMOD) are involved in research and studies in the contemporary issues of disaster
management. The Tribhuvan University has established a Center for Disaster Studies and
Mountain Risk Engineering unit for training purpose. Similarly, Kathmandu University has a
Disaster Management Faculty for Masters Students and several engineering institutes are teaching
International Non-governmental Organizations (INGOs)
The body of INGOs are the ones to quickly reach the disaster sites. However, the response
activities are limited mainly on the rescue and relief works. In the last few years, it has
demonstrated the success model of the “Community Based Disaster Preparedness (CBDP)
Programme” in the areas affected from the landslides and floods. Most of other international
organizations join with Nepal Red Cross in the time of disaster relief works to avoid duplication.
Among them, Oxfam is committed to support poor and disadvantaged people to bring about
positive and sustainable change and reduce their vulnerability to flood disaster through the river
basin program. Oxfam has a long term program to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable people
living in Terai region using the rights-based approach.
Lutheran World Service Nepal has Disaster Preparedness Project since 1996 focusing on disaster
preparedness, response and mitigation at the grassroots level. These activities are Community
Based Disaster Preparedness (CBDP), strengthening of strategic relationships, building cooperative
partnerships and launching School Earthquake Awareness Training (SEAT) program. Recently, it
has extended its Disaster Preparedness Project in several districts. Danish Christian Aid (DCA) is a
core member of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF).
ActionAid Nepal is responding to emergencies such as flood and earthquake disasters but is
limited to relief and rehabilitation to date. It is gradually shifting its priorities, along with relief and
rehabilitation, to preparedness and capacity building of community-based organizations to cope
with disaster situations. Committed to Rights-based approach, it is working primarily in
community-based disaster preparedness, disaster risk reduction through school, school safety, and
safety-net campaigns in line with Hyogo Framework of Action and MDG.
The United Mission to Nepal (UMN), as one of the largest non-government service agencies in the
country has large number of skilled manpower and effective facilities, which can be helpful in any
disaster response situation.
After the 1993 floods, landslides and debris flows, UNDP established a full time UN Disaster
Management Secretariat (UN-DMS) to support Nepal Government's disaster response efforts. The
major objectives of the program are to increase disaster management capacity of the government
8. agencies, and I/NGOs, the disaster-affected communities, and to assist to UN Disaster
Management Secretariat Communities.
The major disaster management work under ICIMOD includes regional workshops, trainings,
hazard mapping using GIS and preparation of a Climatic-Hydrological Atlas of Nepal using
available information. ICIMOD initiated the regional cooperation on the disaster management
programme since 2002.
Care Nepal is widely involved in agriculture and natural resource management programs focusing
on the livelihoods of disaster-affected people within the flood- and landslide-prone areas. More
specifically, it has been implementing the watershed management program in the Terai and the
middle hills with a primary focus to reduce impacts of landslides/flood disasters. CARE also has
some works in the flood mitigation and preparedness.
Practical Action is a UK-based INGO with main focus on establishing use of appropriate
technology by demonstrating and disseminating knowledge and influencing decision-makers. It is
piloting early warning systems (EWS) for flood and landslides in selected areas of Banke, Bardiya,
Chitwan and Nawalparasi districts.
United States Office for Disaster Assistance (US/OFDA) and Disaster preparedness of European
Commission Humanitarian Aid department (DIPECHO) have been providing financial assistance
to run several disaster-related programs in South Asia. It has been channelling these assistances
also through international organizations such as DFID and AusAid as cosponsors. Donor agencies
such as World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and OPEC Fund are also involved in flood
management through their loans in the Irrigation and Flood Protection Sector.
Non-governmental Organizations (NGOs) and networks
There is handful of NGOs working in disaster sector in Nepal. Among them, National Society for
Earthquake Technology-Nepal (NSET-Nepal) is a very active NGO working admirably in the field
of earthquake safety and preparedness with the mission of assisting all communities in Nepal to
become earthquake safer by developing and implementing organized approaches. Similarly,
National Centre for Disaster Management (NCDM), ECO-Nepal, Nepal Geologic Society (NGS),
Nepal Landslide Society (NELS), Natural Disaster Management Forum (NDMF), Friends Service
Council Nepal (FSCN), Institute of Engineering (IOE), Nepal Engineering College (NEC),
Disaster Preparedness Network (DPNET), Disaster Management Action Network Nepal
(DiMaNN), and Task Group on Disaster Management (TGDM – within AIN) are other important
NGOs and their networks with some significant works under their belts.
F. POLICY PROVISIONS AND GOVERNANCE STRUCTURES
Being the secretariat of the Central Committee, Natural Disaster Management Section (Home
Ministry) is the apex body (to implement policies and programs with proper coordination) in
natural disaster management in Nepal. However, its performance has always been put into question
due to inadequate service delivery and planning. As its role is general administration including
peace and security, it has no priority agenda to deal with disaster events. Formation of a new
independent institution to deal with disaster management is therefore urgently required.
National Plan and framework
As a separate legal provision requires correct measures to make arrangements for the operation of
relief works, the Natural Disaster (Relief) Act, 1982 came to force immediately after its enactment.
The Act is the guiding document for disaster management. A National Action Plan on Disaster
Management was formulated in 1996 taking consideration into different aspects of the natural
disaster. The Tenth Plan (PRSP) 2002-2007, recognizing the impact of disaster in poverty
reduction, has mentioned specific strategies for natural disaster management. These are the
primary in-country legal and policy documents that directly address natural disasters. The response
9. mechanism in Nepal is divided into four key factors such as disaster preparedness; emergency
response; rehabilitation and reconstruction; and mitigation.
The disaster management program follows the CBDP/CBDM model. The pre-disaster action
involves prevention, displacement, early preparedness and early awareness, while the post-disaster
measures involve effective relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation. Despite such elaborate plans
and procedures, a truly long-term plan of action has not been effectively put into place.
There are basically three levels or tiers in disaster management system in the country:
• The top most tiers are the national planning commission headed by the Prime Minister, in
which representatives of various ministries are members. The highest policy making body also
extensively involves some multilateral organizations like UNDP, DFID, USAID and
international organizations like ICIMOD, GTZ, SNV, ActionAid, CARE, Safe the Children,
Oxfam, Red Cross Society to provide techno-managerial support. NGOs are also a part of the
consultative group of the national disaster management program.
• The second tier of decision making in emergency situation is the district level committee,
headed by the chief district officer. Some district departments, Red Cross Societies, NGOs as
well as other CSOs are involved in the district level committee.
• The lowest tier of the disaster plan of action involves the Disaster Management Committees
(DMC), Users committee or village-level groups, who monitor the functions in the community.
Resource distribution is done through the District as well as Village Development
However, a major failure of the Nepal disaster management program is that it involves only
response action and lacks preparedness. The plan is inclined more towards relief work than overall
disaster management. The policy action in times of calamities was legislated through the natural
calamity Act of 1982 and 1992, wherein clear-cut guidelines were mentioned vis-à-vis calamity
response. Pursuant to the Act, a National Calamity Act Fund was created. The overall authority in
management of the fund is at the central level and the movement of resources is through the five
regional funds, seventy-five district funds and umpteen numbers of village-level community
groups on calamity mitigation.
Laws and Regulations
There are various plans, strategies, policies and legislation that have been spelt out for the
provision of the disaster management. A brief overview are as follows.
Natural Disaster (Relief) Act, 1982
Nepal did not have disaster policy until 1982. Relief and rescue works were carried out as
voluntary social works. Central Natural Disaster Relief Committee (CNDRC) is the outcome of
Natural Disaster Act (1982). In order to support the CNDRC, five others committees are
envisioned such as Relief and Treatment Sub-Committee (RTSC), Supply, Shelter and
Rehabilitation Sub-committee (SSRSC), Regional Natural Disaster Relief Committee (RNDRC),
District Natural Disaster Relief Committees (DNDRC) and Local Natural Disaster Relief
The rationale of CNDRC is to formulate and implement policies and programs regarding natural
disaster relief work, and to undertake other necessary measures. Moreover, the CNDRC prepares
specific norms for relief assistance, in cash and/or in kind, to be distributed to disaster victims of
affected areas. The role of RNDRC is to provide necessary advice and suggestion to the CNDRC,
help execute policies and directives of the CNDRC, and operate effectively the rescue, relief and
10. The CNDRC organizes meetings as and when necessary under the chairpersonship MoHA. It can
invite concerned Member of Parliament representing the district affected by a natural disaster to
share the situation, ideas, and prepare plan of action to deal with disaster. According to recent
• To provide up to NRs.10,000 as relief assistance to the family of a dead victim.
• To provide treatment in the nearest hospital or health post. Even airlift seriously injured people
and taken to a more advanced hospital.
• To provide up to NRs.3,000 if a house is destroyed in a natural disaster, up to NRs.2,000 if a
house is not safe and under disaster threat (temporary settlement), seven KG of rice or up to
NRs.125 (food grain assistance) and NRs 500 (clothing and utensils) for a homeless person.
• To provide up to NRs.500 as immediate relief assistance to those who have completely lost
their land and crops and have nothing to eat.
• To provide timber for house construction at a lower price.
This Act is the sectoral comprehensive legal instrument in response to disaster in Nepal. This Act
focuses on the post-disaster activities. It authorizes GoN to delegate anyone to undertake relief
work. The Act has constituted the Central Disaster Relief Committee on the chairmanship of the
Home Minister at the central level.
National Action Plan (NAP)
Nepal constituted a high level National Committee for International Decade for Natural Disaster
Reduction (IDNDR) in the decade of 1990s in the initiation of the United Nations. This committee
formulated policies for disaster management. The plan has specified priority groups, activities and
executive agencies to be undertaken in disaster management. The NAP also specifies the
responsibilities of various disaster actors, with specified time frames within which they implement
their disaster reduction tasks by formulating special plan of action and mobilize the available
resources in the given period.
Soil and Watershed Conservation Act, 1982
The Soil and Watershed Act, 1982 allows protected watershed areas to be designated, and vested
the powers which may be exercised by a Soil and Watershed Conservation Officer in those areas.
Although protection of watershed areas is essential to disaster management, the scheme of the Act
has particular implications for individuals cultivating land within them.
Building Act (1987) and Building (Construction) Code (1994)
Building Act (1987) and Building Construction Code (1994) have spelt out provisions for disaster
management. But these provisions are not enforced in all parts of Nepal. Building Act spells out
for the construction of houses on the secure place whereas Building Construction Act specifies
Do's and Don'ts in building construction. These provisions are made to mitigate damages from
Water Resources Act, 1992
As water resource management can have implications in disaster management, Water Resource
Act deserves a serious scrutiny in disaster management. The Act makes provision for the
appropriate utilization, protection, management and development of surface, underground and
other sources of water. Although the thrust of the Act is towards regulating corporate use of water,
nothing in the Act prejudices the power of HMG to exploit water potentials. In this Regard, HMG
may acquire water resources from any person and develop them for use in such a way as to benefit
a larger number of people.
Forest Act, 1993
The Forest Act, 1993 aims to establish a comprehensive structure for the management of all forest
areas in Nepal. The importance of forest products to rural communities and the need for regulation
11. of access to forest areas means that the Act is fundamental to development. Since, poverty is the
cause of deforestation and deforestation is the cause of disaster, management of forest plays a vital
role to address disaster management.
Environment Protection Act, 1996
Since ultimate result of environmental degradation is disaster. Therefore, consideration for one by
requires attention to the other. The main task of environment protection legislation is to prevent
environmental pollution, ultimate result of which will contribute to effective disaster management.
Amongst other, this Act has attempted to protect the environment by encapsulating the provision of
environment impact assessment, which requires developers of projects to assess the likely
environmental impacts before it is carried out. The main objective of environmental impact
assessment is to ensure that environment considerations are incorporated into the planning for,
deciding of, and implementation of development activities.
Local Self-Governance Act, 1998
Local Self-Governance Act, 1998 aims to provide opportunity for the sovereign people to
participate in the process of resource mobilization, development and distribution of development
outcomes by de-centralization of power centers. Engagement is sought particularly in formulation
of plans, their implementation, and decision making on the matters of daily concerned of local
people. The Local Self-Governance Act (1999) is surprisingly silent on the provision of disaster
management. So there is no provision of flood and landslide related disaster prevention in this Act
by virtue of autonomy, according to which local bodies can formulate disaster plan, policy, and
programs within their jurisdictions.
Watershed Management Policy, 1993
The watershed management policy is developed to conserve the watersheds. It envisions helping
people meet their local needs by improving land and increasing agricultural productivity through
proper conservation and mitigation of watershed resources in an integrated approach. The policy
emphasizes on mobilizing the local community as well as raising awareness through user groups.
Tenth Five Year plan (2002-07)
The tenth five-year plan has given high priority for water-induced disaster prevention. The major
goals are as follows:
• Formulate policies, guidelines related to water-induced disaster management.
• Collect information through participatory hazard mapping.
• Prepare flood plan management guidelines.
• Help to strengthening of inundation committee/other groups involving in the disaster.
• Mobilize external resources in water-induced disaster prevention sector.
• Prepare master plan for river and landslides management.
• Arrange inventory of rivers flowing to/from neighboring countries, and
• Strengthen institutional set-up for efficient execution.
The Constitution of Nepal (1990/2006)
The Constitution is the masterpiece of all laws and legislation. Unfortunately, it does not say
anything about right to get relief and protection from disaster in particular, but it can be related to
right to life and individual liberty under article 12. Right to life has meticulous dimensions. The
supreme court of Nepal has interpreted the right as to include the dignified life embodying the right
to shelter, health, clean environment etc. So, it can be said that the human rights with respect to the
disaster response, such as right to protection, right to rehabilitation, right to resettlement from any
disaster can be defined under this Constitution.
12. National Water Plan, 2005
In order to implement the 25-year National Water Resources Strategy, 2002, the Government has
recently ratified the National Water Plan, 2005. It has formulated 5 Years, 15 years and 25 years
targets up to the year 2025. The focus of Water Induced Disaster management during the first 5
years is to enhance institutional capabilities for managing water-induced disasters. In the following
ten years, to adopt effective measures for better management of water-induced disasters and
mitigation of their adverse effects. The long-term goal is to make Nepal's water disaster
management system fully functional, effective and responsive to people's needs.
River Control Policy, 1999
River control policy is developed by Department of Irrigation in 1999. It emphasis the need for a
new comprehensive approach to flood mitigation and river control through use of local material,
instead of relying solely on gabion–wires; incorporation of bio-engineering in river control
facilities, combination of structural and non-structural measures, and capacity-
building/institutional development of community organizations for flood mitigation measures. This
draft policy has also stressed the need for a more systematic approach to river control in the Terai
and the establishment of river classification, design criteria and databases.
Biodiversity Strategy (2002)
Government of Nepal with the support of World Bank and Canadian International Development
Agency (CIDA) is formulating a long-term National Water Resources Strategy. The strategy is
expected to directly address the needs of the poor and marginalized people, thereby contributing to
improved living conditions for the poorest sectors of the Nepali population. Altogether nine
programs have been identified under this strategy.
National Adaptation Program of Action (NAPA)
The draft NAPA document addresses Global Warming and Climate Change Impact dealing with
temperature and rainfall changes, ecology of the mountain region, and the impacts on socio-
economic activity of downstream population by the natural calamities and disaster. Nepal is
formulating NAPA with the involvement of multi-disciplinary team, which was coordinated by
Ministry of Environment Science and Technology (MOEST). The document regarding the process
for the NAPA preparation is in the endorsement pipeline by MOEST officials.
Water Induced Disaster management Policy, 2006
The DWIDP, developed a Comprehensive River Law to provide the guideline for overall
river management and administration in consultation with the concerned stakeholders. For
the management of water-induced disasters as a part of river basin management and working
simultaneously in line with the principle of Integrated Water Resources Management, GoN
has recently approved this policy with the following five objectives:
• Mitigating the loss of lives and property arising from water-induced disasters like flood and
• Preserving rivers, river basins, and water related environment for the sustainable use of natural
resources and facilities like water supply, irrigation, water navigation, road transport etc.
• Reclaiming riverbanks and flood affected areas for the rehabilitation of landless people and
conduct of socio-economic activities in the area.
• Institutionalizing development for the control of water induced disasters and management of
flood affected areas.
• Defining the role of local and central government institutions; NGOs; community
organizations and private institutions in the management of rivers.
G. OPPORTUNITIES AND GOOD PRACTICES
Hyogo Framework of Action (2005-2015)
13. Recognizing the significance of promoting emergency management and disaster risk reduction
efforts at the international, national and local levels in the past few years, The World Conference
on Disaster Reduction, held on January 2005 in Kobe, Hyogo, Japan, has adopted the Framework
for Action 2005-2015. This framework has been agreed to by 168 governments’ world wide, as the
international framework for disaster reduction.
The goals set by the HFA 2005-2015 are: a) Integration of disaster risk reduction into sustainable
development policies and planning, b) development and strengthening of institutions, mechanisms
and capacities to build resilience to hazards, and c) systematic incorporation of risk reduction
approaches into the implementation of emergency preparedness, response and recovery program.1
The HFA provides logical steps for achieving DRR; knowledge of the risk faced, especially from a
participatory process. Once the risk is known and there is commitment for reducing the risk, one
needs the knowledge, skills, and methodologies for reducing the risk. The next priority action
stresses on knowledge management for DRR aiming at propagating the knowledge and
empowering communities. The next step is targeting the causative factors; thus, it focuses on risk
assessment as the starting point for DRR. However, risk reduction is a long-term process, and there
is always some residual risk at any point of time, hence the Framework suggests disaster
preparedness for effective response. Nepal has expressed her commitments to DRR by signing the
In the recent past, after WCDR II and commencement of HFA, there is a positive sign for disaster
management in Nepal. After a rigorous exercise and pressure from the NGOs and civil societies;
GoN agreed to revise its Jubilee Old Disaster (Relief) Act. As a result, a new draft Disaster
Management Act 2007 and Disaster Management Policy have been developed and submitted to
MoHA for their enactment.
All new Act, policy and strategies have incorporated the Rights Based Approach to disaster
management. Persons affected by natural disasters should enjoy the same rights and freedoms
under human right and national law as others. Protection shall not be limited to securing the
survival and physical security of those affected by natural disaster. The full range of social,
economic and cultural rights should be secured. The issue of “protection” and “Human security”
has been ensured in these documents which are rights related to: physical security and integrity;
basic necessities of life; social, economic and cultural protection needs; and civil and protection
Proposed National Strategy for Disaster Risk Management
The National Strategy for Disaster Risk Management is a commitment of the GoN to reflect the
paradigm shift towards protection as part of the fulfillment of basic rights of people. It also
expresses the desire of people and GoN to reduce disaster risks to an acceptable level for
safeguarding their lives, properties, development investments, cultural heritage as well as to
mitigate the adverse impact to the environment thereby contributing to the aspirations of
alleviating poverty and improving the quality of life.
The National Strategy recognizes the following as the main characteristics of the process of
Disaster Risk management:
It also recommends five priorities for action:
• Priority Action 1: Ensure that disaster risk reduction (DRR) is a national and a local priority with a
strong institutional basis for implementation.
• HFA Priority Action 2: Identify, assess and monitor disaster risks and enhance early warning.
• HFA Priority Action 3: Use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and
resilience at all levels
• HFA Priority Action 4: Reduce the underlying risk factors
• HFA Priority Action 5: Strengthen Disaster preparedness for effective response
14. • Integrating risk reduction concerns; safeguarding lives, livelihoods and assets of communities
by promoting disaster-resilience; developing appropriate institutional, policy and legislative
mechanisms for holistic disaster risk management at all levels, with involvement of all-
stakeholder approach is essential for achieving the national goal of sustainable development
and poverty reduction.
• Citizen of the country have the right for dignified life and livelihood and that the government
is responsible to ensure protection from disasters, which in essence is avoidable, with no risk
creation in recovery/ rehabilitation process; being accountable to the communities at risk and
communities impacted by disaster, and being sensitive to such values as social equity, justice
and inclusion, gender- and ethnicity- equality, and putting especial efforts in case of
marginalized communities, Dalits, deprived and physically handicapped.
Proposed National Commission for Disaster Risk Management (NCDRM)
The NCDRM is chaired by the Prime Minister. The leader of the opposition will serve ex-officio as
the Deputy Chairperson of the Commission. Other Members may include all cabinet ministers
including ministers of Communication, Defense, Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, Finance,
Education and Social Welfare, Chief of the Army Staff, Inspector General of Police, Inspector
General of the Armed Police, at least two representatives of Civil Society, and any other person of
repute appointed or co-opted by the Chairperson.
The NCDRM has the following functions:
• Endorse national policies on disaster risk management
• Approve the National DRM Plan, sectoral plans for DRM, and the national programs for the
reduction of specific natural hazards.
• Arrange for, and oversee, the provision of funds for disaster risk reduction, preparedness,
response and recovery measures, and
• Provide policy guidance for bi-lateral, sub-regional (SAARC), regional and international
cooperation in areas of disaster risk management
The operating arm of the NCDRM is the National Authority for Disaster Risk Management
Proposed National Authority for Disaster Risk Management (NADRM)
NADRM will serve as the national focal point and coordinating body for facilitating and
monitoring implementation of disaster risk management strategies in Nepal. This necessitates
NADRM to directly interact/communicate with all stakeholders, including ministries, departments,
and district level institutions in matters related to the planning and implementation of DRR
initiatives. The proposed legislation should provide such authority to the NADRM.
NADRM will be the single authority to manage response, early recovery, reconstruction and
rehabilitation in case of national or regional disaster. For this purpose, to institutionalize
operations, all stakeholders including government departments/agencies and emergency responders
will work through and form a part of NADRM for the stated period. In case of a disaster affecting
a single district, NADRM will provide guidance and support to the District Authority for Disaster
Risk Management (DADRM).
Formulation of District Preparedness Plan
District Disaster Relief Committees (DDRC) have been constituted in each district as provisioned
in NDRA, 1982. In addition, there are five Regional Disaster Relief Committees representing five
development regions of the country. MOHA provides annual budgets to the DDRC to implement
the District Action Plans of each district. The budget is dispensed to each district on the basis of
request of requisite fund either spent or planned amount for expenditure by each DDRC.
15. For now, only annual disaster preparedness plans are in place and implemented accordingly. For a
long time, it was thought that broad based District Disaster Preparedness Plans have to be prepared
if disasters are to be managed properly. The GoN with assistance from UNDP started choosing 5
model districts viz. Chitwan, Makawanpur, Sindhuli, Syangja and Tanahun out of 22 districts
which are frequently ravaged by natural disasters. Accordingly, district disaster management action
plans for five pilot districts were prepared during 2001-2004. Of the five, Chitwan District Disaster
Management Action Plan was officially released recently under the title 'Total Disaster Risk
Management Pilot Exercise'
District-level Community Based Disaster Preparedness Plan
There are several Community-based Disaster Preparedness Plan developed in Jhapa, Morang,
Sunsari, Udayapur, Saptari, Dhanusha, Sarlahi, Makwanpur, Chitwan, Nawalparasi, Kathmandu
and Lalitpur, Rupandehi, Kapilvastu, Banke, Bardiya Kailali and Doti. These Action Plans were
prepared with the support of DIPECHO partners, which are ActionAid, CARE, LWF, Mercy
Corps, Oxfam GB, Practical Action and UNDP.
Local-level Disaster Preparedness Plans
Communities are also involved in the preparedness activities. The local Disaster Management
Committees (DMC) are formed at the community level to prepare preparedness plans for floods
and earthquakes, training and rehearsals on Earthquake flood search and rescue, but in a very
limited number. Many international and local NGOs are helping them to prepare these plans.
Kathmandu Valley Earthquake Risk Management Project (KVERMP)
Kathmandu Valley Earthquake Risk Management Project (KVERMP) was implemented during
1997-2000 by the National Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET) in association with Geo
Hazards International (GHI), USA. They carried out the loss estimation study for a possible repeat
of the 1934 earthquake in the modern day Kathmandu Valley using earthquake loss models as
ATC-13. The study covered the likely loss in human lives and the damage to existing
infrastructures. A scenario document entitled Kathmandu Valley's Earthquake Scenario explaining
the results of the loss estimation was published in 1999 for the general public both in English and
The study estimated a minimum of 22,000 and maximum of 40,000 human deaths. NSET and Geo
Hazards International, USA also produced "The Kathmandu Valley Earthquake Risk Management
Action Plan” for managing earthquake risks of the Kathmandu valley. The detailed Study on
Earthquake Disaster Mitigation (SEDM) in the Kathmandu Valley was done by Japan International
Co-operation Agency (JICA) in collaboration with the Ministry of Home Affairs and several other
Nepalese institutions. It provides a detailed 14 assessment of seismic vulnerability and damage
analysis of existing buildings, public facilities, and lifeline networks including human casualty
figures for different earthquake scenarios in 2001-2002.
Safety-net campaign is an initiative under taken by ActionAid Nepal. It carries the value of
"human security" at the center with Rights-based approach to Disaster Management. Under
this, awareness, organization, and advocacy are the key intervention areas followed by
capacity building and resource mobilization. This also addresses the issues of vulnerability
and hazards of the poor, excluded and vulnerable groups. This initiative is developed in
collaboration with local NGOs and stakeholders (all institutions at community, VDC, district,
and national level) to influence the decision makers and development actors to come out with
a development program, to integrate disaster risk reduction in favor of the rights holders i.e.
poor, women, boys and girls for building resilience to Disaster. In addition, "Safety-net
campaign" analyzes the underlying causes behind people’s vulnerability to disaster risk and
enacts social security and protection measures to sustain their livelihoods.
16. DRR through school
Nepal Red Cross Society, Save the Children Alliance and ActionAid Nepal are among the
pioneers to initiate disaster risk reduction through schools. The overall framing of this
initiative is provided by the HFA. The central focus is on reducing risks and vulnerabilities to
disasters through innovative work in the education sector. The HFA 2005-2015 seeks to
ensure that disaster risk reduction is a national and local priority through using both national
platforms and community participation. The framework is explicit about using ‘knowledge,
innovation and education' to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels. It specifically
refers to the inclusion of disaster risk reduction in education.
NSET pioneered the School Earthquake Safety Program (SESP) in 1997 when it was included
as a direct component of Kathmandu Valley Earthquake Risk Management Program
(KVERMP) The findings of the Kathmandu valley earthquake vulnerability assessment
survey of public schools carried out in 1998 were very alarming: The study showed as much
as 60% of the public school buildings are highly vulnerable and risky to use even in normal
conditions. This situation urged to implement vulnerability reduction programs in schools
which led to a pilot program of retrofitting public schools in Kathmandu valley in 1999 with
the initiative of making schools safer against earthquakes. Since then SESP has been
implemented in more than 23 schools in different parts of the country.
Disaster Inventory/Information Management Systems in Nepal (DIMS)
UNDP in collaboration with NSET has established a systematic database of natural disaster
events in Nepal covering a period of 33 years (1971-2003) and it entered them into a software
called "DesInventar". It is a methodical tool developed by Latin American Network for Social
Studies on Disaster Prevention (LARED)
H. GAPS AND CHALLENGES IN DISASTER RESPONSE
The following are some major challenges that are considered obstacles in managing the emergency
and disaster. They are categorized into four segments i.e. institutional, social, administrative and
technical, which are discussed hereunder.
• Institutions involved in the rescue and relief work are inactive. Mainly because there is no
single authority to deal in disaster holding true the statement "everybody's responsibility is
• Inadequate policy and legal environment are the biggest impediments in disaster management.
Development of an effective institutional mechanism had always been preferred but without
any success. Absence of organizational outfit at the highest level that could be tasked to
provide intellectual and administrative leadership is seriously noted in Nepal. Improving on the
role of leadership and the creation of National Disaster Risk Management Council or National
Emergency Operations Centre, backed by appropriate legislative instrument, seems to be the
priority agenda for Nepal.
• The National Action Plan for Disaster Management (1996) gives the details of the plan meant
for all 75 districts through DDRC. However, only five districts have such plans and only in
one district government has formally launched it. As a result, DDRCs are presently using the
annual budget received from MoHA in post disaster activities alone.
• Hazard maps of the most susceptible areas have not yet been prepared for all categories of
natural disasters. In absence of such maps, programs could not be implemented to avoid
17. • NDRA is silent in describing the duties and responsibilities of all disaster management
agencies other than the MoHA. Similarly, issues of coordination and mutual understanding
among them are not reflected in NDRA. Three government ministries and four departments
who are supposed to be engaged are constrained (although their roles and responsibilities are
defined) due to lack of coordination among the agencies (owing to complex bureaucratic
structure). The same situation is at the local level. Inter-ministerial coordination is also weak.
Though Home Ministry is responsible for the instant rescue and support, the resettlement
program is responsibility of Ministry of Physical Planning and Works.
• The River Law fails to inform the stakeholders related to river management (specifying its
crucial phenomenon and mitigating measures, and allowing the private sector and NGOs in
• NAP has specified priority groups, activities, and executive agencies in the field of disaster
management. So it is more progressive than other plans in the sense it emphasizes the
importance of local knowledge and skills as well as people's capacity and awareness along
with technical measures to mitigate disasters. But the plan is very poor in terms of
• Commitments are often impressive but the level of enforcement is very weak. During the
International Decade for Disaster Mitigation (1991-2000), government has formulated action
plan that mainly focuses on the issue of mitigating disaster imposed by flood and landslides,
but was never been implemented.
• Very few NGOs willing to work in disaster mitigation because they are not allowed to work
directly during the disaster and emergency.
• Due to lack of awareness, perception of most rural people is that natural disasters are the acts
of God. They are yet to believe preventive measures could reduce the impacts of natural
• The problem of unemployment also discourages people to think about disaster in advance.
• Only elites have access to DNDRC as it primarily is representative of their interests. Disaster
victims have little access to these committees.
• Natural disaster never made it to a political manifestos, as a result has remained as a least
priority sector for politicians.
• In collecting support for the disaster victims, NGOs are far ahead than government institutions.
Huge amount of relief materials such as tents, clothes, money, foodstuffs, utensils are collected
from different sectors. But because of the weak monitoring system, it is very difficult to
determine who benefited from the efforts.
• The priority of disaster management practice, so far, is mostly on the post disaster activities
(rescue and relief works), which is also a common mindset of the people and organizations
working in this field. It is because these programs are cheaper as well as considered quick
profile builder. So, most works are limited to rescue efforts and not rehabilitation, which is
• Lack of sufficient resources is the major problem. As a result, it is difficult to repair and
maintain damaged infrastructures. The process to releasing funds from government is very
complex and it often leads to substantial delays both at local and national levels. It is now a
trend that the budget is sanctioned only during the final quarter of fiscal year.
18. • Disaster victims do not always receive immediate and effective relief services. Delayed relief-
works and duplication have also been experienced due to the absence of dialogue and mutual
understanding among agencies. Often distribution is ad hoc, not systematic, transparent and
there is immense political- and caste- based partiality. Sometimes complex and bureaucratic
processes hinder providing the relief to victims. According to government rules, one has to
submit request letter and citizenship certificates to the Chief District Officer. As most of the
victims usually are uneducated and lacked the certificates, they failed to do so.
• Though the government has given mandate to deal with the water-induced disasters to
DWIDP, it is working with limited manpower and with 7 divisional and 5 sub divisional
offices throughout the country. Present strength of DWIDP is not sufficient to manage the
water induced disasters all over the country.
• Technical manpower is hardly available at local level and on time. Absence of modern
technology (early warning systems and forecasting) to cope with the emergency and disaster is
also a problem.
• Due to difficult geo-physical condition and inadequacy of infrastructure facilities, relief
materials are difficult to deliver.
• The flooding in the Terai arises also due to haphazard construction from VDC funds without
technical supervision. Rehabilitation work of river barrages by India just downstream of
Nepal-India border without any consultation with Nepal government also result in undue
flooding. There is a standing committee to look after cross border issues, but it is largely
I. RECOMMENDATIONS FOR EFFECTIVE DISASTER RESPONSE
Recommendations are categorized into four levels, i.e. policies and regulations;
Government; I/NGO and bilateral organizations; and at community levels.
Policies and legislations
• One of the major problems is certainly the Natural Disaster Relief Act (1982) which is so far
without legislations. Although disaster victims have rights to get relief or protection, disaster
relief is taken as government benevolence. They cannot argue and demand to secure their
rights because the disaster victims have no single group and organization. So now it is time to
amend the Natural Disaster Relief Act on the basis of right-based approach. It is also necessary
to define the roles and responsibilities of right holders, stakeholders and duty bearers in the
Act as per the changing context and lessons learned.
• The majority of disaster problems are associated with the haphazard use of land in Terai and
deforestation of upper catchments areas. Hence, the application and enforcement of Land Use
Policy is equally important. The concerned line agencies should have proper plans to link the
Land Use Policy with Natural Disaster Relief Act.
• Among the disasters, water-induced ones are more crucial as they occur every year. In order to
deal with these disasters, water-induced disaster management policy and plan is needed. In this
plan and policy, protection and mitigation options (structural and non-structural protection
works, land use restrictions and warning systems) should be specified clearly. It is useful if
different policies are formed for different types of disaster.
• People lack knowledge about the provisions of Building Code. So, appropriate communication
mechanisms have to be in place to disseminate the major provisions of the Building Code to
19. • The available information and knowledge are sufficient to formulate simple policy and plan of
action. The need of disaster management guidelines is equally important.
• The disaster laws of Nepal are basically limited to post-disaster relief and response, but it is
preparedness which should draw parallel emphasis, which includes the right to notice
(information) of the future disaster (for vulnerable people).
• The disaster legislations should cover some major aspects such as environmental protection,
hazard wastes, urban and regional development (for example, land use planning), provision of
quarantine, health, industrial development, natural resource management, national water
resources, primary industries, energy, social security and transport for an effective integrated
• Natural Disaster Relief Regulation (NDRR) is yet to be formulated. In the absence of NDRR,
NDRA could not be fully enforced. At present, the Natural Disaster Relief Act and Local Self-
Governance Act are primarily providing the legislative framework for disaster management.
But it is not enough.
Central and local government
• Adequate funds and resources are needed for repair and maintenance of infrastructure. In order
to materialize this, concrete plans should be formulated specifying the role of agencies
• Effective coordination among the central and local governments is necessary to translate plan
into action. MoHA should take a lead role in facilitating this.
• The low-cost technologies are needed to establish early warning systems and risk mapping of
hazard prone areas, especially in the Department of Climate and Meteorology. This
information should be made available to all.
• Disaster management component should be incorporated in all five-year plans as priority
sector. Though it is already addressed in the tenth-five year plan.
• It is better to allocate a separate agency (autonomous) to deal in all sorts of disaster
preparedness, mitigation, and rehabilitation works. Only then, is possible to implement counter
disaster programs immediately.
• The government should formulate plan of action to enforce the 'building code' and disseminate
its major provisions to all.
• The majority of people reported that the flooding problem near the Nepal-India broader occur
just because of the construction of dam near the border. In order to mitigate these problems
bilateral dialogue and actions are needed time and again.
• Efforts should be made on identifying and prioritizing high-risk areas and developing disaster
• MoHA should release the fund for relief and rehabilitation on time to facilitate immediate
NGOs, INGO, bi-lateral agencies
• During disasters, infrastructures such as road, water supply, electricity, bridge, schools, and
houses can be damaged. But government alone cannot provide sufficient resources for repairs
and maintenance. There should be a joint initiative of government, I/NGOs and private sectors
• NGOs should work in disaster prone areas even during peak emergency but their activities and
plans need to be transparent. The current Act should be amended as it opposes engagement of
20. NGOs. There also should be the provision of proper monitoring and evaluation of ongoing
• NGOs can be mobilized to manage relief materials (collect and store in the disaster prone areas
for quick delivery). The rescue groups should be formed and trained properly.
CBOs and Community People Level
• Local people and communities are the key actors for effective disaster response. The local
level stakeholders such as local administration and NGOs rely heavily on information of these
people to produce further plan of action. Therefore, it is necessary to strengthen the capacity of
local people and CBOs, so that when a disaster strikes, they can be immediately brought to
• To inform people about emergency and disaster, mass education is needed. For example,
literary class with the issue of disaster in the curriculum is beneficial. Intensive awareness
campaigns should be organized to determine roles and priority activities which are to be
carried out immediately after disasters.
• In order to win people's confidence, all activities should be transparent and planned in a
participatory way. This will help establish people as managers of disasters rather than mere
recipient of services.
• Meetings and interactions should be conducted among the stakeholders for the formulation of
simple strategies or low-cost-mitigation measures. In order to adopt mitigation measures, it is
important to identify level of threats and extent of vulnerability. For this, vulnerability and
hazards mapping need to be prepared in the participatory way. The assessment of vulnerability
condition of poor and disadvantaged and appropriate coping strategy are equally important.
Community based disaster preparedness initiatives are needed for the long run to improve
• Emphasis should be given to conserve natural resources especially forest and land. For this,
people have to be involved in the community plantation work, developing local forests into
community forests, riverside protection work, and in conservation of upper catchments of
• Victims suffer from many social and economic constraints. In order to empower them,
economic programs along with their engagement in resource management help (such as
constriction of catchments ponds, involvement in production and protection activities).
• The formation of policies and legislations should be pro poor. The mechanism should be
developed to balance the power relationship among the various actors.
• The community based preparedness programs should be formulated addressing the issues and
concerns of all local level stakeholders and victims. The total investment of rehabilitation
could be reduced drastically if an effective preparedness program is in place.
• The relief assistance programs should be made simple so that even illiterate people can access
relief. Structured formats should be discouraged.
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