Since the monsoon season began on June 10 this year, Nepal has experienced a series of climatic disasters that have directly impacted thousands of lives. Reports of landslides, floods, and lightning strikes underscore the country’s vulnerability to natural calamities, necessitating immediate and sustained disaster preparedness efforts.

On June 30, a 63-year-old man in Taplejung was injured by a landslide while returning home after collecting relief materials. In Baglung, another individual sustained injuries while attempting to remove debris from a landslide. Additionally, an 11-year-old child in Kanchanpur was hurt while grazing cattle.

The next day, July 1, in Jajarkot, a 5-year-old child lost their life while sleeping, and a 27-year-old man was injured due to a landslide. Continuous rain in Sarlahi caused a wall to collapse, injuring a 50-year-old man.

On July 2, a 76-year-old man in Kailali was injured by a lightning strike.

On 4th July, a 10-year-old girl was injured by a landslide while playing behind her house. In Dang, a 19-year-old woman visiting relatives was swept away and died in the Babai River. In a separate incident, a 20-year-old woman drowned after being swept away by a sudden rise in a stream while crossing a bridge.

These incidents highlight the diverse demographic vulnerabilities and geographical spread of natural disasters in Nepal. Regions such as Taplejung, Baglung, Kanchanpur, Jajarkot, Sarlahi, Kailali, and Dang have all been affected, with individuals of different age groups suffering from landslides, lightning strikes, and flooding. This broad spectrum of risks reflects the wide array of challenges faced by Nepali communities.

Geographically, the incidents span Nepal’s diverse landscape, from the mountainous regions prone to landslides, such as Taplejung and Baglung, to the plains affected by floods, like Sarlahi. Each region presents unique challenges and vulnerabilities, necessitating localized disaster preparedness and response strategies. The incidents in Kailali and Dang, where lightning strikes and river accidents claimed lives, further demonstrate the varied nature of risks posed by natural phenomena across different terrains and environments.

Climate expert Dr. Dharma Raj Uprety in conversation with Aaawaaj News noted, “This year’s monsoon is expected to bring higher-than-average rainfall in July, August, and September. Four types of disasters—floods, landslides, continuous rainfall, and lightning—have already claimed more than 47 lives and caused property damage amounting to 8.2 crores, with a total of 400 incidents reported.”

“While the monsoon is a lifeline for our region, human activities have exacerbated the frequency and severity of these disasters. Structural development and proactive measures are crucial. Disasters should be addressed with seriousness not only during their occurrence or aftermath but throughout the year. Enhanced technological and informational preparedness is essential, and actions should be based on accurate forecasts,” Dr. Uprety added.

The National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC), inaugurated on December 17, 2010, by the Minister of Home Affairs, was designed to be the nerve center of disaster management in the country. Operating under the Planning and Special Services Division and led by a nine-member team under the leadership of an under-secretary, the NEOC was envisioned as a beacon of resilience and preparedness.

The NEOC’s mandate is to operate a 24/7 during disaster periods, ensuring continuous information flow and coordinated response efforts. However, despite this critical role, the NEOC has been inactive for around a year, with no updates on its website or social media channels. This lapse raises serious concerns about the operational readiness and institutional commitment to disaster management.

Meanwhile, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA), established under Section 10 of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act, 2074 BS, continues to disseminate information related to climate, disaster risk, and management. However, there remains a significant gap in the informational aspects of these organizations, with the government failing to provide a clear database of disaster-related incidents.

These incidents reveal significant influences of social structures, political dynamics, and governance on disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. The diverse age groups affected, from children to the elderly, highlight the socio-economic vulnerabilities within Nepali communities. Children and elderly individuals are particularly at risk, emphasizing the need for targeted protective measures. Additionally, poorer communities suffer disproportionately due to inadequate housing and infrastructure, which are more susceptible to damage from floods and landslides. Their limited resources to rebuild and recover further exacerbate their situation, pointing to deep-seated social inequalities.

Political commitment and resource allocation are critical for effective disaster management. The prioritization of disaster management by the government significantly impacts funding and the execution of preparedness and response initiatives.

Integrating disaster risk reduction into development policies and ensuring infrastructure projects consider environmental impacts are also necessary steps. Empowering local governments with resources and authority, and encouraging community-based disaster risk management practices, can further strengthen disaster preparedness. Enhancing public education on disaster preparedness and utilizing media and social platforms for effective communication are essential.