Nepal: Better to be prepared

Source(s): The Kathmandu Post

By Suman Kumar Karna

The country developed a new Disaster Risk Management (DRM) Act 2017 after almost a decade-long struggle. The passage of the law has revived the attention of the world community that rushed to support Nepal after the 2015 Gorkha earthquake. This development has opened a plethora of new avenues and opportunities to develop and consolidate the full cycle of disaster risk management with priority attention to issues like safer construction, risk reduction, multi-hazard mapping, community engagement, local government institution development and resilience building. The estimated cost of the post-Gorkha earthquake recovery and reconstruction programme is more than $9 billion, while the recovery needs of the 2017 Tarai floods are estimated to cost $700 million.


The DRM Act 2017 envisions the establishment of an autonomous and independent institution, which may be called the National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA), to adopt a more holistic and wholesome approach to DRM in Nepal. We must develop and equip this proposed institution with the latest thinking, knowledge, technology and equipment. It must be developed along the lines of recent global protocols like the Sendai Framework 2015, Sustainable Development Goals 2030, New Urban Agenda 2016 and Paris Declaration. We will only suffer if we delay any further in creating this DRM institution. There are many development partners who are interested in investing in this sector, but due to this delay, they are forced to take a ‘wait and see’ position. This situation may not last long and the secured funds may be diverted to another sector or even another priority country. The delay is only complicating the work environment and preventing many interested partners from planning anything big and concrete.


The following are some key lessons on the institutional establishment of NDMAs learnt from South Asian and other countries: Disasters often bring an opportunity to promote institutional or legislative change. National Reconstruction Authority and DRM Act 2017 in Nepal are recent examples. The design of an NDMA and its institutionalisation requires a specific, flexible and political process. The NDMA requires a well-defined legal structure supported by explicit authority and legitimacy to coordinate different agencies and development partners. The NDMA’s institutional structure should support decentralised disaster management; interagency and intersectoral cooperation; linkages with NGOs; and relationships with international donors and others.


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