With all of us so confined with news of the Hurricane Harvey, we are forgetting something important. Our monsoon is just at its adieu, and with wet clothes, dirty boots, and an inevitable need of a new umbrella, it brought along calamities like landslides, floods and swept away lives of several. The monsoon of 2017 has claimed its share of trauma to us. Tens of thousands have lost their homes, granaries and standing crops have been destroyed, livestock has been washed away. “I have lost everything” has become a common a phrase among the victims. With almost 65,000 houses destroyed 460,000 people have been displaced and there are an estimated 19,000 persons currently residing in informal displacements sites, including schools. Some 40 communities remain inaccessible. In addition, 64,000 hectares of standing crops have been destroyed in the ten worst affected districts.
However, unlike the Harvey, Nepal’s disasters—primarily, landslides and floods—are a lot more predictable. It reoccurs every year, in almost similar areas, and at the same time of the year. But what’s scary is that nothing concrete is actually being done to prevent it. We are presented with the same threats every year. And every year, we lose numerous lives and property.
Even with such predictability, these disasters still cost us heavily year after year. The main reason is our traditional preventive approaches with hints of ignorance from our government and people.
Existing disaster interventions are usually done in a very small scale and operated by the local government authorities. There is also a lack of communication between the authorities and communities.
These threats seek new approach for risk reduction. Since the upstream and downstream of the river basins are closely related to floods to occur and its intensity to amplify, the preventive interventions should link them through cause and effect analysis. Then, proper communications between upstream and downstream communities as a means of early warning system can help minimize the loss from the floods to a great extent. Also, proper communication between local government authorities before and during interventions is paramount.
Just because these calamities pose intense amount of threat doesn’t mean we should stay put and let them sweep us away. Landslides and floods, like every other natural threats, can be dealt with and safeguarded if we recognize what we have to do. Why spend millions in rescue teams when we can prevent the risks beforehand? Our let-it-happen-and-we’ll-deal-with-it attitude has cost us lives of many.