Prevent winter deaths, local levels told

Kathmandu, November 26

The Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development today issued a circular to all district coordination committees, municipalities and rural municipalities to take measures to prevent the loss of lives due to cold waves.

In winter, the Tarai and the high Himalayan regions face the brunt of cold waves which cause death and injury to livestock and wildlife, and people, mainly the elderly and children.

With mercury plummeting below 2 degrees Celsius, cold spell affects daily lives in various parts of the country. People, particularly the poor, who cannot afford warm clothes to keep themselves warm, are more vulnerable, read the circular.

As many as 66 persons died after cold wave swept across the country in 2068 BS. Since then, the Ministry of Home Affairs has recorded only one death in 2069. The MoFALD said the circular was issued in response to the November 22 letter of the MoHA.

Many parts of the country remain covered in a thick blanket of fog blocking sunlight for days during the peak of the winter.

The MoFALD urged the local levels to do the needful to protect the people from the adverse effects of cold. It also directed the local levels to raise awareness of the risk of hypothermia and ways to protect oneself from cold, distribute warm blankets to needy people, arrange bonfires, coordinate with district disaster relief committees and local disaster relief committees and work in tandem with district public health offices and hospitals to save lives.

According to Nepal Disaster Report, 2016, Nepal is exposed to multiple hazards such as earthquakes, floods, landslides, fires, heat waves, cold waves, lightning, wind-storms, hailstorms, droughts, epidemics and so on due to its variable geoclimatic conditions, young geology, unplanned settlements, deforestation, environmental degradation and increasing population. Disasters triggered by natural hazards are causing heavy loss of lives and properties. Disasters are also pose threat to sustainable development.

A cold wave is a weather phenomenon that is distinguished by cooling of the air. Cold waves that bring unexpected freezes and frosts can kill plants during the early and most vulnerable stages of growth, resulting in crop failure. Such cold waves may also cause famines. In the early hours of the day and during nights it is chilly and some of the unfortunate victims freeze to death whereas several others die of cold related ailments like cold, flu and pneumonia.