Nepal | May 27, 2020

EDITORIAL: Risky expansion

The Himalayan Times
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Most of the houses are built in cities without sticking to the building code which is after all for the safety of the people

Informal building expansion is expected to double earthquake risks by 50 percent by 2045 in Kathmandu as per recent studies presented by researchers in a report “The Making of a Riskier Future: How Our Decisions are Shaping the Future of Disaster Risk”.

What is worrying is that we are not prepared to handle the increasing disasters. The disasters have exacerbated as a result of climate change and the ever growing populations.

The people who reside in larger cities without regulating housing are likely to suffer more.

What we need to do is to bring a radical new approach to deal with the impending threats making people more vulnerable. This should be able to assess risks with the fast changes regarding the global disaster risks.

The government should bring to halt informal building expansion by putting forth guidelines for expanding in a safe manner that it should also consider the various policies in order to deal with dangerous expansions.

If these measures are undertaken it will increase the effects of the calamities in the future. Experts are able to predict the disaster risks of cities that are changing rapidly and also their main trends.

We now have tools that would ensure that the cities in the future disasters would be resilient that should be put to good use.

We should take up the findings of this study as we know that Nepal is very prone to earthquakes and the big ones can occur at any time. We need to assure that earthquake resistant houses and buildings are built according to a strict building code.

So far, most of the houses are built in cities without sticking to this code which is after all for the safety of the people.

As a result, many houses and buildings are prone to disasters that could have been avoided had the houses been built strictly according to the requirements.

Structures found defying the building code and the rapid informal building expansion are indeed serious threats.

Meanwhile, about 700 experts are expected to gather in Venice to study the crucial roles that modern technological advancements could have in disaster risk management.

The conclave would be held to show the latest innovations made in this area as well as to share their knowledge and expertise. This meet would also attempt to form valuable partnerships helping to identify and mitigate risks.

Understanding the major trends in the disaster risk of cities is long overdue which calls for more research as we acknowledge that we are ill-prepared to deal with the increasing number of disasters.

It is expected that more cities will be built in the future. These cities would be building more houses. So we need to look ahead and study the pattern of the growth of the cities of the future.

The guidelines and policies should be clearly spelt out to avoid informal building expansion.

The expansion can contribute to more risk from earthquakes. Looking at the future to 2045 the projections made are indeed something that should be taken up seriously.

We might then be able to do something about the forecasts of the experts.

Grant distribution

The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) is all set to mobilize hundreds of local volunteers in the 14 most quake-affected districts to facilitate the distribution of grant assistance and reconstruction of temporary houses beginning May 20.

The volunteers from major political parties and civil society members will be pressed into the service to facilitate the grant agreement to be reached between the quake affected families and the concerned VDC secretary.

The NRA has planned to distribute the first installment of the grant assistance of Rs 200,000 to each of the affected families.

Each of the affected families will be provided Rs. 50,000 through banking channels under the first lot.

The campaign was designed in a manner that all the quake victims will get the first installment of the grant so that they can build temporary shelters before the onset of monsoon beginning the second week of June.

However, a person who wishes to volunteer the reconstruction work should be physically fit and s/he must have taken training in reconstruction from local level of Department of Urban Development and Building Construction to be eligible for voluntarism.

This provision will create conducive atmosphere and avoid chaotic situation in the workplace where only skilled persons are required for reconstruction.

A version of this article appears in print on May 19, 2016 of The Himalayan Times.

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