Nepal has two layers of tectonic fault zones, unstable soil conditions due to young mountains, lack of general tendency to maintain gradient in mountainous settlements, deforestation and vegetation loss due to unscientific agro farming and livestock farming, and culture of manipulating nature/environmental resources, which continue to pose threats of disaster. There are several types of natural and manmade disasters occurring in Nepal. Natural disasters manifest in earthquakes, floods and landslides, windstorms, hailstorms, thunderbolts, droughts and epidemics. The human-induced disasters include fire, industrial accidents and road accidents.
Nepal has formulated many sector specific policies over the years, which could have a significant impact on activities related to disaster risk management. The programs seek to support policy frameworks and institutional development at national and local levels in addition to the integration of DRM into core development policies and plans of Nepal. Such support will include activities such as the formulation of a national policy on DRM, and revision of existing disaster legislation. However, they are yet to materialize. From the Tenth Development Plan to present three-year interim plan, the stress is to bring legislation and more comprehensive policies and programs in this area.
National Water Resource Strategy, 2002
National Water Resource Strategy is the first of its kind which set a long term planning for the use of water in Nepal. It also identified the areas for water use. As water induced disaster is one of the main disasters in Nepal, the strategy discusses Nepal’s overall watershed and rain fed water. This has set 5 years, 15 years and 25 years strategic targets. Similarly, National Water Plan, 2005 enhances institutional capabilities for managing water induced disasters, effective measures for better management of water induced disasters and mitigation of their adverse effects making water-induced disaster management system fully functional, effective and responsive to people’s needs.
Water Induced Disaster Management Policy, 2006 calls for mitigating the loss of lives and property arising from water-induced disasters like floods and landslides. It also highlights preservation of rivers, river basins, and water related environment for the sustainable use of natural resources and facilities like water supply, irrigation, water navigation, road transport, etc. Reclamation of riverbanks and flood affected areas for the rehabilitation of landless people and conduct of socio-economic activities, institutional development for the control of water induced disasters and management of flood affected areas are some of the important components of the strategy. Defining the role of local and central government institutions, NGOs, community-based organizations and private institutions, the policy shows how to respond to the agenda.
Tenth Development Plan (2002-2007)
For the first time, Nepal’s Tenth National Development Plan (2002-2007) mentioned Disaster Risk Reduction as a priority. There were two separate chapters to deal with disaster management and they also stressed new policy formation in the context of disaster management. It highlighted the Government of Nepal’s growing awareness of the importance of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). Both chapters reiterated the need for policy formulation, strengthened institutional mechanisms and coordination, risk assessment, information collection and dissemination. Although it was limited to talks about the disaster management issue, it laid down the foundation for the future programs. The lesson learned after completion of the five-year plan was: no significant progress was achieved.
Eleven Three-year Interim Plan (2007-2010)
Three-year Interim Plan 2007-2010 has also included a separate chapter on natural disaster management and recognizes the importance of DRR and mitigation, emphasizing the need to introduce changes into the prevailing national policies, requiring shift of focus from disaster response to prevention, mitigation and preparedness, identifying challenges such as the need to foster coordination among institutions, and seeking to promote better understanding of hazards and related disaster risks. After the completion of this plan no progress was noticed, and it has been limited only in plan documents and was not able to transform through sectoral plan and policies.
Twelve Three- year Interim Plan (2010-2013)
Three-year Interim Plan (2010-2013) discussed the agenda more broadly with separate chapters on natural disaster management. It has identified natural and human-induced disaster management as the core need of sustainable and broad-based economic growth. The Plan has adopted a policy on disaster risk reduction in Nepal and it has included preparedness activities for disaster management at national and community levels. The plan provides local bodies, NGOs, community organizations and the private sectors the opportunity for preparedness actions, including rescue and relief. The plan also integrated the objectives of making development and construction works sustainable, reliable and effective, mitigating disasters to secure life of common people through appropriate strategies and programs.
The plan also foresees the specific programs for disaster affected people. In relation to international assistance, the plan states effective activities of reducing the damages of disaster by expanding relations with the international organizations related to natural and human made disaster management and by exchanging the information with them.
Protecting Nepal's development gains from the ill-effects of natural disasters in support of the Interim Development Plan of the Government of Nepal is a priority of the government. The Interim Plan also expresses its commitment to Hyogo Framework of Action HIFA 2005 and the government will implement the resolution passed by the fourth ministerial meeting of Asia and Pacific Countries on DRR and CCA and Incheon Road Map on DRR/CCA, Incheon Declaration 2010.
Short and long term strategies are in offing for mainstreaming disasters. The plan envisages a New Disaster Reduction Act to replace the old one. However, the government is yet to table the act. The three-year plan stresses the need to have such an act to mainstream all the stakeholders involved in the Disaster Risk Reduction. As the old act was formulated in a very different national and international context in 1982, it needs to be replaced by new one by updating the current knowledge based on experiences and studies. As international participation in the disaster risk reduction areas grows and the issue is now internationalized, the new law must be formulated to ensure their roles. Similarly, the role of women and community should be addressed properly. At present, Disaster Reduction Act is very much centralized in nature. In the context of Nepal’s new state structure as federal, there is the need of an act that includes all of them.
Thirteenth Three- year Interim Plan (2013-2015)
Thirteenth Three-year Interim Plan (2013-2015) or current plan approach paper focused the issues of Disaster Risk as one of the components for development. The current plan realized that without mainstreaming DRM in national development, it will not be sustainable. The current plan realized that in the past disaster mitigation was not mainstreamed in the development efforts in a sustainable manner. As a result heavy losses of lives and property and substantial damage of physical and infrastructure throughout the country are the examples of impacts of disaster. The main objectives of this current plan are to mainstream disaster into the development process so that the risk and impacts of disaster could be mitigated. But, a lot of things to be still done, to addressed the mainstreaming DRM into the development. Plan without proper planning caused not to implement disaster at the grassroots levels where actually action needs to be done. In order to achieve objectives of disaster management, strategies and operation policies is laid down in the plan documents but the implementing agencies of the government machineries failed to develop their plan as according to mainstreaming National Plan. As a coordinating agency of National Plan, National Planning Commission is trying to coordinate and facilitate concerned line ministries to focus on disaster in their annual plans and programmes so that objectives of mainstreaming could be achieved. In this context, the current plan will be more disaster risk aware and environmentally friendly and minimize environmental impacts and losses, making rescue and relief reliable and effective, carrying out effective public awareness activities, strengthening earthquake measurement stations, preparing hazard maps of vulnerable areas. The details of the current plan is coming soon for public.
Support to Disaster Risk Reduction
The Nepal DRR Consortium founded by UN agencies, UN/ISDR, the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and the IFRC in 2009 became operational in 2010 to build a more integrated response to Nepal's risk challenges. Collaboration around joint work plans in such areas as school retrofitting, community preparedness and emergency response support were developed and the Government has provided full engagement at the highest levels. The US Government and European Commission also joined in the Consortium in the final quarter of 2010 to increase new resources for Nepal to address its risk agenda in 2011. Through the Comprehensive Disaster Risk Management Program, UNDP is supporting the strengthening of the capacity of government ministries and local government bodies for disaster risk management.
One of the operating strategies includes carrying out rescue and relief works in disaster affected areas, protecting life and property and reducing their loss. To mitigate the sufferings of people, implementing effective land use zoning, and preparing hazard maps of the disaster prone areas are other strategies.
Under the DRR and Disaster Management, efforts have already been made to raise disaster awareness among the people and provide training at the community level for effective disaster management. Action is also taken to coordinate with different stakeholders involved in disaster management and proper mobilization of non-governmental organizations in rescue and relief works. The operating strategy includes mobilizing internal and external resources for rehabilitation and reconstruction. Formation of teams and their mobilization in disaster areas to assist in relief works and assess the damages, collect and analyze data, and disseminate information are other operating strategies.
Hyogo Framework of Action and Nepal's Response
Nepal was one of the first countries in South Asia to have created a policy and legal environment for disaster risk management in early 1980s. There has been a growing realization on the need to redefine the existing policies in order to accommodate the considerable advances in the field of disaster risk management globally, especially those from the lessons learnt from recent disasters such as the Indian Ocean Tsunami 2004, and South Asian Earthquake 2005. Improvement in the national policy is required to fulfill the commitments made by the government of Nepal to the international community in the UN World Conference On IDNDR (Yokohama, 1994) and the UN World Conference on Disaster Reduction, Kobe 2005. The latter resulted in an international consensus on disaster reduction in the form of the Hyogo Framework of Action (HFA) 2005-2015. This needs to be translated into the local context for achieving the stated goals of disaster reduction in the stipulated time frame. Hence, the government of Nepal prepared the National Strategy for Disaster Risk Management based on the HFA in consultation with the relevant stakeholders across all levels. UNDP is supporting Nepal government in this process with financial support from European Commission.
National Strategy for Disaster Risk Management Plan realizes the priority actions at national level as envisaged by the framework plan and program. It’s District Preparedness Plan and Action Plan is formulated and implemented in 5 highly vulnerable districts, Chitwan, Makawanpur, Sindhuli, Syangja and Tanahun, out of 22 districts.
Hyogo Framework of Action 2005-2015 is an action plan adopted by the World Conference on Disaster Reduction in January 2005. One of the major objectives of the Hyogo Framework of Action is building the resilience of nations and communities to disasters. This also includes clear references to the importance of early warning and encourages the development of early warning systems that are people and community oriented. It must be based on particular systems whose warnings are timely and understandable to those at risk. This is the reason government of Nepal is also pursuing early warning system and working with Nepal’s development partners closely in this regard. The country has spelled out its commitment to early warning system in the National Strategy for Disaster Risk Management Strategy adopted by Nepal government in October 2009.