HIMALAYAN NEWS SERVICE
KATHMANDU: Though a most vulnerable country to natural disasters, Nepal is yet to put in place a national level apex body to deal with disaster risk management issues.
“The lack of an apex body at the national level has impacted natural disaster risk management and mitigation efforts,” said Reshmi Raj Pandey, joint-secretary at the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development (MoFALD). “We urgently need an apex body under Prime Minister to deal with disasters,” he added.
The natural disasters, according to a report, claim around 200 lives every year and cause property losses worth $15 million, according to a report.
Floods, landslides, inundation, food scarcity, drought and earthquake have hit the country hard. Floods and landslides displace a large number of people every year.
Kathmandu Metropolitan City stands first among 22 mega cities worldwide in terms of earthquake risks, while Nepal is on the 11th position on quake vulnerability. “We are on the 30th position in relation to risks of floods and landslides throughout the world,” said Pandey.
The ministry has been working at the local level to mitigate natural disaster risks. “We are working with district development committees, municipalities and village development committees to minimise the risks.
However, the achievement is not satisfactory,” he said. “The country lacks policies, laws, funds and management skills on natural disaster mitigation.”
Haphazard urbanisation has created more problems. “We are yet to safe construction practices to minimise the risk of natural disasters,” Pandey said. He informed that they were holding discussions with the Home Ministry and the Finance Ministry in this regard. “The government should make efforts to solve problems at the national level so that we (MoFALD) can work together with local bodies on the disaster mitigation front,” he added.
Millions of rupees is annually collected in the name of the Natural Disaster Relief Fund, which is under the Prime Minister. However, most of the victims do not get the funds thus collected, government officials say, adding that the state has failed to take measures to prevent disasters.
There are 75 districts, 3,915 villages and 58 municipalities across the country with a total population of 26.6 million.