No excuses

  • Government must formulate long-term plans to help Nepali citizens regain their footing

Aug 28, 2017-This monsoon, record levels of torrential rain wreaked havoc across Nepal and caused significant damage and suffering. Responding with the deployment of reasonably swift intervention efforts, it seems the Nepali government has learnt from mistakes made during the initial days after the earthquake of 2015. Already, long-term plans for rehabilitation of victims are afoot. The government’s data collection on the loss of lives and properties has commenced, and is now in the final stages. Based on these findings, the Home Ministry will formulate a proposal to reconstruct houses that were destroyed or damaged in the monsoon related disaster; this plan will be announced within three months. The government, it seems, is finally stepping up to the plate. 

The state drew considerable flak for failing to provide timely relief to the victims in the immediate aftermath of the floods and landslides. However, now relief operations are continuing apace. The government has already allocated Rs200,000 each to the kin of those who died in the monsoon induced disasters and provided Rs15,000 in grants to families whose houses have been damaged. It has also been providing Rs70 per individual on a daily basis for food. These short-term responses give reasonable cause for optimism that the state is not shirking its responsibilities. 

Now, as the rains have abated and floodwaters slowly recede, the onus falls on the government to formulate long-term plans for disaster management to help scores of Nepali citizens regain their footing. A preliminary government report revealed that 79,812 houses were destroyed by floods and landslides, with 144,444 damaged in the disaster. The World Food Programme (WFP) has released data stating that 1.7 million people have been directly affected by the flood or landslides, with around 461,000 displaced victims who are in desperate need of assistance. Approximately 143 people have been killed and 30 others are still missing. In the light of such devastating losses, there is an obvious need for a systematic effort aimed at prolonged relief provision and reconstruction of damaged infrastructure.

Several long-term initiatives are in the offing, with the government preparing to announce assistance of Rs300,000 to the victims of this year’s floods and 

landslides, as well as the plan for reconstruction of houses. The state and its development partners have made considerable investments in Disaster Risk Reduction efforts in recent years, and it seems as though these labours are paying off. 

But there is much that remains to be done. There is an urgent need for the government to conduct a post-disaster needs assessment to find out where and how help is needed. In particular, vulnerable groups have to be identified and provided adequate support to restore their sources of livelihood. The government can also coordinate numerous stakeholders to fuel large scale relief efforts. It essential for the government to assume a proactive role at this juncture. 

Published: 28-08-2017 07:40

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