Kathmandu – Media should play a more proactive role in educating the general public about disaster preparedness, rather than simply reporting the aftermath of crises, according to journalists attending a workshop organized by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Federation of Nepalese Journalists (FNJ).
The event, which was supported by USAID’s Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA), brought together leading Nepali journalists to discuss how media can contribute to building a more disaster-resilient society through advocacy, awareness raising and improved accountability at all levels of government.
Nepal is among the 20 most disaster-prone countries in the world. In 2015 earthquakes displaced some 2.8 million people. Over 117,000 people in the 14 worst-affected districts were forced to find shelter in makeshift camps. 2017 also saw heavy rains resulting in flooding across 35 of Nepal’s 77 districts. Over 190,000 houses were destroyed or partially damaged, displacing tens of thousands of people and leaving many homeless.
The country’s new federal structure created under its new 2015 Constitution has seen a shift of power from the centre to provincial and municipal levels of government. Disaster risk reduction management (DRRM) is among 22 areas of government that are now the responsibility of devolved provincial and municipal authorities.
The government is also re-organizing its disaster management agencies based on a new DRRM Act 2017. This also involves a significant decentralization of decision making, resources management and service delivery systems.
Nepali media is already engaged in advocacy to raise awareness of disaster risk reduction. Nepal TV’s Talk of the Town programme has screened 52 episodes on DRRM issues to date, creating a nationwide forum designed to bring together stakeholders from different fields to achieve a common goal of building a more disaster-resilient nation. DRRM is also a national priority for members of parliament and the Government.
The Kathmandu workshop was attended by some 30 journalists from News Agency Nepal (NAN) the Association of Community Radio Broadcasters Nepal (ACORAB) and other media outlets. It was facilitated by DRM expert and former Education Minister Dr. Gangalal Tuladhar.
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