Earthquake Safe Communities in Nepal

23rd Earthquake Safety Day observed in Nepal, Focus on Collective Efforts to lessen potential losses due to disasters

Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has urged all the sectors and stakeholders to come together in order to minimize the losses of human lives and assets in the earthquake and other disasters occurring in Nepal. Through a message issued on the occasion of 23rd Earthquake Safety Day, Prime Minister Oli has remarked, "Nepal is strongly committed to take forward DRR initiatives with concrete work plan in line with priorities and goals set by various international commitments such as Sendai Framework, Sustainable Development Goals and Paris Agreement," Prime Minister Oli has also expressed his commitment to work for the institutionalization DRR efforts in Nepal result-oriented and sustainable.

Nepal marked 23rd edition of Annual Earthquake Safety Day (ESD) commemorating 1934 Nepal-Bihar Earthquake. The main purpose of marking this Day has been to re-affirm national commitment to enhance Earthquake Resilience of Nepali communities and also share and review past experiences & strategize further. This year’s focus has been on addressing complex emergencies, as the slogan says "Earthquake Safety in Complex Emergencies; Mutual Efforts for Saving Lives and Assets." Various awareness raising and sharing & learning events held nationwide at Federal, Provincial and Local level.

Addressing the National Meeting held in Madhyapur Thimi, Home Minister Mr. Ram Bahadur Thapa 'Badal', the Chief Guest of the ceremony, urged all the stakeholders to adhere to Disaster Risk Reduction requirements and provisions such as enhanced disaster preparedness, earthquake resilient construction practices, building code compliance and building permit process in order to keep ourselves safe from earthquakes and any other disasters in Nepal. Minister Thapa also highlighted need for all the stakeholders to work jointly and make better coordination to minimize the impending earthquake risks in Nepal.

On the occasion, Minister Thapa remarked, "Nepal lies in such a location where earthquakes are unavoidable. Risk is too high. In order to minimize the earthquake risks, sensitization and awareness promotion on Earthquake Risk Management at public level is crucially important. One of the key objectives of organizing the ESD is to promote the understanding of common people about the earthquake risk in Nepal and sensitizing them to adopt the preparedness measures against it,"

Madhyapur Thimi Municipality hosted the 23rd ESD National Meeting on Jan15, 2021at Kumari Mandir Park, Bode that was chaired by Mayor Mr. Madan Sundar Shrestha. Addressing the National Meeting, Mr. Sushil Gyewali, Chief Executive Officer of National Reconstruction Authority (NRA), expressed his satisfaction over Nepal’s ongoing reconstruction efforts which is about to conclude. “We have accomplished 91% of the reconstruction in five years’ time. It is a matter of great satisfaction and big achievements for us in the contemporary national and international context,” Mr. Gyewali said.

Mr. Gyewali further remarked that despite devastating impacts, the Gorkha Earthquake, and the following National Reconstruction Campaign played significant roles in enhancing public awareness on safer construction practices at grassroots. Commending the people’s support in the reconstruction of private housings incorporating earthquake resistant elements, Mr. Gyewali expressed his confidence that the campaign will also be replicated beyond the Gorkha Earthquake affected areas making their settlements too resilient to future earthquakes. From the Chair, Mr. Madan Sundar Shrestha, Mayor of Madhyapur Thimi Municipality, announced various plans and DRR initiatives that his municipality is going to implement in the days to come. Mr. Shrestha made announcements that the Madhyapur Thimi Municipality will build an Earthquake Memorial in the memory of those who lost lives 2015 Gorkha Earthquake. Likewise, he vowed to formulate community volunteer groups in various tole and wards and provide the capacity enhancement trainings to them so that they could contribute in disaster response related activities in the future.

Meanwhile, Mayor Mr. Shrestha also mentioned that his municipality also planning to initiate some model works related to Risk Sensitive Land Use Plan (RSLUP) in near future. At the program, Mr. Anil Pokhrel, Executive Chief of National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA), highlighted various efforts and further plan. “There is no early warning system developed by science in terms of earthquake so far. But various measures such as Earthquake Preparedness, construction of Earthquake Resistant buildings, having adequate open spaces in the communities among others could significantly help minimize the loss of life and assets,” Mr. Pokhrel remarked.

Mr. Pokhrel further mentioned about two key measures to make stay resilient to earthquakes; ensuring full compliance to National Building Code in new construction and retrofitting of old and vulnerable public and private buildings.

Mr. Padma Mainali, Chair of ESD Publicity Sub-Committee and Acting Director General of Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC) highlighted various events of 23rd ESD and also briefed on efforts of the Department including revision of National Building Code (NBC-105) among others. On the occasion, Mr. Mainali also briefed on how National Building Code implementation is progressing in Nepal.

Addressing the 23rd ESD National Meeting, Ms. Ayshanie Medagangoda-Labé, representative from Resident Coordinator of UN, highlighted the UN’s cooperation and joint work with government in various efforts of Disaster Risk Reduction in Nepal. Ms. Labé mentioned, "as we have no choice but to live with seismic risk in Nepal, promoting earthquake safety is critically important. While 2020 was a difficult year battling Covid-19 pandemic, the risk of earthquakes and other disasters prevail there and therefore, it is prudent at the beginning of 2021 for us to come together and reaffirm our commitment for promoting earthquake safety and disaster resilience in Nepal."

Mr. Surya Narayan Shrestha, Member Secretary of ESD National Organizing Committee and Executive Director of NSET highlighted the importance of marking the Day. Highlighting the achievements in Disaster Risk Reduction so far in Nepal, Mr. Shrestha also put forth lists of tasks and priorities to be done in the days to come. He stressed that citing the high seismic risk, Nepal need to go for effective implementation of National Building Code (NBC) in all 753 Urban and Rural Municipalities. Likewise, he underscored the need of development and implementation of Risk Sensitive Land Use Plan (RSLUP) in order to make the systematized urbanization and development of settlements.

Prior to National Meeting, Earthquake Memorial Meetings were held in Lalitpur and Kathmandu where various stakeholders including parliamentarians, elected representatives from Metropolitan Cities, Security Forces and professionals from various walks of social life participated.

There are other events being organized on the occasion of 23rd Earthquake Safety Day.


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