Youth Innovation Lab celebrated the graduation ceremony of first batch of the disaster risk reduction fellows, in Kathmandu, yesterday.

The learning, experiences, and achievements of the first cohort of fellows was celebrated together with representatives of the federal government, mayors and municipal representatives of 14 project municipalities, UN representatives, DRR professionals, and a diverse group of young leaders from various fields working in the DRR sector in Nepal.

Localisation of BIPAD portal was carried out at 14 municipal governments by a cohort of 14 fellows from October 2020 to February 2021 with the support of USAID's Tayar Nepal project.

Speaking at the programme, Pradip Khatiwada, executive director of YI-Lab, gave a brief overview of the BIPAD portal and the journey of fellows working with local municipal governments in localisation of the BIAPD portal.

Khatiwada underlined the importance of empowering youths and young professionals to bridge the technical gap between federal and local levels through the fellowship programme. He further highlighted, how data collected by the fellows would help local governments make informed plans for disaster risk reduction and management.

Krishna Hari Puskar, joint secretary of the Government of Nepal, praised the innovative approach of mobilising youths in transferring technical capacity to the local governments through the means of fellowship. He stressed the importance of expanding this fellowship to more municipal authorities for enhancing the local government's capacities.

Tammi Harris, chief of Party of Tayar Nepal, gave her remarks on the approach taken by the programme to fill in the critical data gap related to disaster at the ground level. She also highlighted how the role of fellows at the municipality and the concept of fellowship was helping to support Tayar Nepal's milestones to make communities resilient against disasters. She vowed to extend support to the government in rolling out localisation of BIPAD portal to other local levels.

Mayors of various municipalities highlighted the usability and effectiveness of BIPAD portal in storing and retrieving disaster data and its use in strategic planning in disaster risk reduction, and emphasised strengthening local resources and capacity for effective DRRM, and acknowledged the fellowship programme for helping the municipality establish trained human resources who can now run and operationalise the BIPAD portal effectively.

Anil Pokhrel, chief executive of National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority and chief guest of the graduation ceremony, emphasised the importance of BIPAD portal and its planning to roll out the portal to all municipal governments and provincial levels in the next five years. He said no other institution had correct information on exposure data other than the local governments. He shared NDRR- MA's plan to capacitate each local government to understand the potential risks and act on them.

A version of this article appears in the print on March 12, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.