Nepal: Preparing for floods during a lockdown
By Diya Rijal
If that happens, the pandemic peak in Nepal could coincide with the monsoon peak which brings with it an increased risk of landslides and floods. This year, unusually heavy early monsoon rains have already triggered landslides across the mid-mountains, causing at least 36 deaths.
The Department of Hydrology and Meteorology has forecast 100-200mm of rain in 24 hours from Friday onwards into the weekend, warning of flood risk in the central and eastern Tarai. It is not just the precipitation that has intensified flood risk, but also poor drainage, denudation of the Chure Hills, and road and embankment construction across the border in India that impound water in Nepal.
This rainy season, there is the additional risk of COVID-19 and the need to maintain physical separation and maintain personal hygiene in shelters. Unlike the previous years, the pandemic has also brought returnees from overseas and in-country migrants, increasing the population living in areas at flood and landslide risk. People also need to be made aware of maintaining hygiene and physical separation in shelters.
Says Bimal Regmi: “Many communities have used the areas affected by the floods as vegetation for livelihood, degraded land rehabilitation, tree plantation, bioengineering, and other disaster risk management methods to minimise the impact of floods.”
It is obvious that these best practices need to be scaled up.