Nepal needs disability-friendly building code, suggests study

KATHMANDU: A research report on post-earthquake situations of Nepal from the disability perspective highlighted that Nepal needed to revise the existing building code making it more disability-friendly.

Social Science Baha, a non-governmental organisation, had carried out the research "Disaster, Disability and Difference: A Study of the Challenges Faced by Persons with Disabilities (PwDs) in Post-Earthquake Nepal" and published the report in coordination with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in Nepal and National Federation of Disabled-Nepal (NFDN).

The report has urged the government to incorporate 'universal design' into its post-reconstruction works with the help of experts in the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) and the Department for Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC).

It has stressed the need of systematic programmes from the government in coordination with the organisations working for people with disabilities (PWDs) to ensure that the people with disabilities as well as the marginalised population are provided with earthquake-resistant houses.

Acknowledging the fact that building wheelchair ramps is not feasible in Nepal geographically, it has called for building strategic areas where the PWD population is higher.

The organisatiion has also urged the civil society, national authorities and stakeholders along with international donor institutions, including the UNDP, to monitor the status of the Disability Rights Bill, 2016, with a framework and assure its implementation according to the Sustainable Development Goals 2015-30.

It has also expressed concerns over implementation of the SDGs in countries with high level of social inequality and uncertain social inclusion, like Nepal.

According to the National Census 2011, 1.4 per cent of population is living with disabilities in Nepal. The devastating earthquake of 2015 is believed to have added more on the existing number.

The report has requested the government to calculate data regarding effects of the earthquake at the earliest and disseminate them in an interactive and reader-friendly way.

For the betterment of the PWD population, the organisation has urged the government to invest more at the national and local level and increase their participation in government, both at macro and micro levels.

On a different note, the report, quoting Dr Bibek Banskota of Hospital and Rehabilitation Centre for Disabled Children (HRDC), underlined the need of prevention measures to avoid diseases attributing to disability.

According to Dr Banskota, 30.3 per cent of disabilities are because of diseases and/or lack of medical care.