Monsoon preparedness

  • Govt must take early actions to mitigate impacts of flood during the rainy season

Jul 2, 2018-

Monsoon is hitting hard and according to the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology, it will rain more this year. City dwellers console themselves with having the comfort of breathing less dusty air during rainy days, but the downpour floods the streets which sometimes become muddy, ultimately causing problems to commuters.

Meanwhile farmers of the hilly ranges and the Terai, albeit happy to receive rainfall for plantation are already downbeat with the premonition of peril.

The prevailing monsoon has already started taking its toll in the country. Flight cancellations, flooded road ways, frequent landslides and mudslides, roaring rivulets--all the usual suspects of signs of the arrival of the monsoon are being witnessed all over. Reports of deaths on the account of landslides and floods in different parts of the country have already started floating. Annual monsoon fall is the major cause for internal displacement in Nepal. It also damages crops, infrastructures and people’s houses.

Repercussions of monsoon flooding also has a long lasting socioeconomic impact in Nepal. People displaced due to flood and landslides flock to other parts of the country and in major cities to start a new life. Due to lack of employment opportunity and loss of resources, internally Displaced People (IDPs) who relocate themselves en masse frequently suffer hostility from host communities and most of them fall into extreme poverty in the long-run.

Despite all this, government has not increased  the budget on mitigation measures for the roaring monsoon calamities. Several I/NGOs are providing assistance for flood preparedness. Government is also conducting some activities such as flood drills, installation of flood early warning system, and trainings on managing IDP camps. The earthquake of 2015 has further weakened our mountains that were infamously fragile to begin with.

Hence the country has become more prone to landslides. According to Director General of Department of Hydrology and Meteorology Rishi Ram Sharma, “Since it is not possible to predict a landslide, we are planning to divide our landscapes into multitude of zones based on vulnerability.” He further stated that the government is planning to discourage housing construction on areas that are more prone to landslides.

But this will not suffice. Government has to take the leadership. Prime Minister led National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council’s (NDRRMC) first meeting on June 18 decided to keep a Nepal Army led rescue and search teams on standby at three different locations. This move of the new government who is witnessing its first monsoon is a decision worth welcoming. However, updating meteorological activities of the area and advisories in NDRRMC website alone would not be enough.

A ground level action is imperative because saving lives of its citizens should be the first priority for any government. Timely relocation is a must followed by establishment of temporary shelters with appropriate or manageable facilities. Also, all vulnerable population should be made aware about the possibility of disaster and inundation.

Granted, natural disasters cannot always be fully predicted. But we can nonetheless minimise the damage by taking precautionary measures.

Published: 02-07-2018 08:12

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