• INT’L day for natural disaster reduction : Week-long ritual events planned to mark day

Kathmandu, October 10:

Nepal is celebrating the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction by organising a series of ritual week-long events. Though the government is not organising any programme on the Day itself, a series of programmes, including inter-school debates, youth rallies, gallery shows on rescue and preparedness, street dramas on school and community preparedness, will be held throughout the week. The Ministry of Home Affairs, preoccupied with the government-Maoists talks, has given the least preference to the celebration of the day, activists said.

The United Nations General Assembly had designated the second Wednesday of October as the International Day for Natural Disaster Reduction through resolution 44/236 on December 22, 1989. “Since the UN has chosen a theme, concentrating on school-related activities, we are doing our best to raise awareness through schools,” said Shyam Sundar Gyawali, senior team leader, Emergency and Disaster Management at the Action Aid Nepal. Gyawali said that two schools in the Kathmandu will be chosen to highlight the issue of disaster preparedness in cooperation with Lumanti Support Group.

Though Nepal, too, adopted the “Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of the Nations and Communities”, the government has not been able to implement the framework. “May be the Ministry of Home Affairs has not been able to implement the framework because it has to focus on more crucial issues like talks with the Maoists. We hope the government will make enough efforts to keep save thousands of lives from disasters,” he said.

Mahesh Nakarmi, project Manager at the National Society for Earthquake Technology-Nepal (N-SET), said: “There is a tendency to forget the theme and objective of celebrating this day.”

Annan’s statement

KATHMANDU: UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, in a statement issued on the eve of the International Day for Disaster Reduction, said: “It is essential to make disaster risk education a component of national school curricula, and to ensure that children understand how natural hazards interact with the environment. Young people should also be included in community risk-mapping exercises, and have opportunities to share experiences and best practices with others, including their peers.” The theme of this year’s observance of the International Day for Disaster Reduction highlights the need to keep our children safe and to involve them directly in our work to strengthen disaster preparedness, he said, adding: “Children are especially vulnerable to the threats posed by natural hazards.” — HNS