Workshop held to discuss ways to reduce disaster risk

Kathmandu, December 13

A two-day inception workshop on disaster risk reduction organised in Kathmandu discussed and charted out a collaborative roadmap to increase resilience of communities through the formation of a DRR-focused knowledge hub.

The workshop, which concluded yesterday, was a culmination of consultations organised by the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development in the past to focus attention on the vulnerabilities of communities within the Koshi basin shared by China, India and Nepal. The basin is characterised by numerous natural disasters putting at risk its 40 million inhabitants.

After two days of intensive discussions and deliberations, government and NGO representatives, scientists and researchers from the three Koshi Basin countries – China, India and Nepal – have stressed the need for greater transboundary cooperation for disaster risk reduction in the basin. The event saw over 60 participants from the three basin countries.

For the Koshi river basin, events such as the disastrous 2008 floods that affected 45,000 people in Nepal and close to three million people in India, serve as a reminder of the need for greater cooperation in DRR. Pete Budd, Australian Ambassador to Nepal said, “Natural disasters have transboundary effects. There is no other time than the time to act now.”

Speaking on challenges and opportunities in the Koshi basin, Joint Secretary Ram Gopal Kharbuja at the Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation gave examples of real-time flood forecasting measures that had been established in the Koshi to facilitate information sharing with various stakeholders in Nepal and across the border in India. He said that such knowledge sharing mechanisms would strengthen cooperation between countries in the basin.

Gretchen Kalonji, Dean of Sichuan University, China said that a network of young professionals could work to the advantage of those looking to conduct further work within the basin. Referring to the existing limitations on data and information sharing, Liu Rongkun, visiting researcher at ICIMOD said, “We need to be realistic in achieving our goals – whether it’s research or information sharing.”

However, the success of the knowledge hub will depend on transboundary collaboration. “Hazards have upstream and downstream linkage and transboundary cooperation is essential for developing common understanding and working towards cooperation,” said Vyas ji, Vice-Chairman, Bihar State Disaster Management Authority. The workshop debated these multi-faceted challenges and developed a preliminary roadmap for the hub, including working areas such as floods, landslides and sedimentation.