New strategy to tackle disasters in the offing

Kathmandu, August 1:

Natural Disaster Rescue Central Committee (NDRCC) is working together with ministries, donor agencies and humanitarian organisations to mitigate disasters.

Unlike in the past, when the response to natural disasters had been focused on providing relief to disaster victims, nine ministries are forging a joint alliance with donor agencies and humanitarian organisations to develop an effective mechanism to intensify their response to natural disasters.

Officer of the Disaster Management Section in the Ministry of Home Affairs Suman Ghimire said the plan was to respond to disasters with three approaches: Disaster-preparedness, mitigating losses and rehabilitation and reconstruction after disasters. “A new Bill incorporating the new approaches has been drafted. It will be tabled in the House soon and will replace the existing Natural Disaster Rescue Act 1982 once the House approves it,” Ghimire said.

Nine ministries, including the Ministry of Home Affairs, Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation and the Ministry of Local Development will work with the Nepal Red Cross Society and other agencies to mitigate losses during disasters.

As per the new mechanism, the Ministry of Home Affairs will function as a national focal point, facilitating different government and non-governmental organisations. The Ministry of Health, Population and Environment will be responsible for the supply of medicines and strengthening capacities of hospitals and health centres for relief works. The Ministry of Forest and Soil Conservation will manage soil-conservation activities in the disaster-prone areas, while the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives will take up preventive measures to control animal-disease outbreaks and look after food supply. The Ministry of Local Development will devise ways for utilisation of local resources and mobilise community-based organisations for disaster management.

The Ministry of Education and Sports will be facilitating the disaster relief teams by providing school buildings as shelters to disaster victims, while the Ministry of Industries, Commerce and Supplies will be responsible for maintaining stock of essential supplies.

Plans to institute a Disaster Mitigation Fund with the support of international donor agencies are also underway. NDRCC is requesting the the Ministry of Finance to allocate Rs 90 million instead of Rs 50 million allocated this fiscal.

According to the Home Ministry, 322 people died, 189 went missing and 186 were injured because of natural disasters in the country in 2007.