That adequate relief has been so late in coming to the victims of the Koshi floods that took place last August shows how inept the government and related organizations were in aiding the flood-hit. Finally, a meeting of the ruling five party alliance have decided to release a package of Rs 1.5 billion for the purpose, which is a welcome relief although belatedly. No doubt, this will not cover all the losses incurred by the flood victims when the Koshi River broke its embankments and changed course causing havoc, the likes of which have not been seen for a long time. The river inundated thousands of hectares of agricultural land depriving thousands from their means of livelihood as a result of which they had to seek shelter in makeshift camps depending on aid for food. The flood victims had become frustrated with the ordinate delay in receiving relief and also compensation. The present package envisages providing some form of compensation, but this would not suffice to cover the actual damages. However, many of the flood victims could return home and start building their lives again.
As a consequence of the delay in relief reaching them, the flood victims resorted to various forms of violent protest, including the closure of highways in the periphery of the Koshi barrage to vent their anger. As a result, this has affected the flow of traffic on the highways as well as stranding thousands of passengers, thereby, causing immense hardships to many by adversely affecting day to day life, not to talk about the economy. That it took so long for relief to reach the flood victims raises serious questions as to how the country is prepared to face potential natural calamities in the future. Nepal is very vulnerable to such calamities, as has been already experienced. There is much talk about disaster preparedness, but these seem to be only on paper. For example, the aid that had poured in for the flood victims appear not to have been properly utilized, and also there is lack of transparency on the way the relief had been used.
Now that the month of June is nearing when the monsoon usually starts we could see a repeat of last year and also the plight of the flood victims worsening. Since natural calamities are inevitable there is need for preparedness such as rapid response so as the keep casualties as low and possible and provide immediate relief to the victims. In the meantime, it cheered the heart to see how other citizens chipped in to help the Koshi flood victims in the aftermath of the disaster. However, it is now apparent that much of the aid did not reach the needy and many of the flood victims are still languishing in camps where living facilities are said to be appalling. The government should, therefore, accord due priority in providing relief to the victims of natural calamities. The plight of the Koshi flood victims shows the failure of the government in this regard as even after such a long time since the floods the authorities have not been able to rehabilitate the victims. The flood hit now expect that the government will now set in earnest to provide the necessary relief with the release of a substantial package, and that this time there would be no misappropriation of the funds. Furthermore, the activities of the relief agencies should also be monitored so that the relief reaches the needy.