An estimated 1,801,000 people’s lives spanning 412,000 homes is expected to be affected due to monsoon-related disasters this year. According to Dr Dijan Bhattarai, Under Secretary and Spokesperson for the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA), early scientific models are suggesting that an estimated 83,000 homes and families will be directly impacted due to monsoon-related disasters. Of the affected, 18,000 families will require emergency relief services, as per Bhattarai.

Monsoon-related disasters are predicted to directly affect 22,000 homes in Koshi Province, 98,200 homes in Madhes Province, 33,371 homes in Bagmati Province, 25,298 homes in Gandaki Province, 77,016 homes in Lumbini Province, 11,548 homes in Karnali Province and 53,362 homes in Sudurpaschim Province.

63 lives lost due to monsoon-related disasters previous year:

A total of 769 monsoon-related disasters were recorded across Nepal last year, of which 216 was recorded in Koshi Province, 26 in Madhes Province, 120 in Bagmati Province, 127 in Lumbini Province, 42 in Karnali Province, and 95 in Sudurpaschim Province.

Similarly, 63 lives were lost during the same period including seventeen in Koshi, one in Madhes, seventeen in Bagmati Province, nine in Gandaki Province, eight in Lumbini Province, eight in Karnali Province, and three in Sudurpaschim Province. Meanwhile, according to Bhattarai, 69 people were injured and a further thirty people were recorded missing as per data at the authority. Finally, 711 homes were partially damaged, while 242 homes were completely damaged owing to monsoon-related disasters last year.

Authority prepares for monsoon-related disasters:

Nepal’s Department of Hydrology and Meteorology has predicted a 35-50% increment in monsoon rains this year. As per Bhattarai, the NDRRMA is making early preparations for the upcoming monsoon to help mitigate the impact of its related disasters. Bhattarai has said that the authority is taking special measures to reduce the impact on lives, homes and natural property in line with the estimate, and has developed relief, assistance and mitigation strategies. A preparedness and disaster action plan of the authority, which was developed in coordination with the joint secretary, has been shared with relevant authorities for its timely and effective execution. The Nepal Disaster Risk Reduction Portal under the Home Ministry has also committed to develop a dedicated “Monsoon Preparedness and Response Command Post’ for the entirety of the monsoons. Its first meeting was held on Wednesday and has agreed to publish timely information about possible disaster risks to allow public to make informed decisions.

Bhattarai also stated that NDRRMA has asked local authorities to identify at-risk physical infrastructure, and to immediately remove associated risks. For example, removal of stones, gravel and sand near roads and bridges which could lead to obstructions. Similarly, NDRRMA has also stressed on cleaning and clearing drains, especially in the Terai belt to allow unobstructed flow of rainwater.

Similarly, weather and risk updates will be updated three days prior, citizens can contact a 24-hour toll-free hotline at 1149 to avail information about disasters, and finally the Home Ministry, the NDRRMA and Nepal Disaster Risk Reduction Portal have agreed to prepare flying squads at high-risk areas.

Government preparedness for relief and emergencies:

The government has NRS 6.78 billion in its disaster trust ready to be mobilized for relief and emergencies. NRS One billion is in the PM Disaster Relief Fund, 1.67 billion in the Disaster Relief Trust, 84.7 million in each province’s disaster management fund. Similarly 1.25 billion is appropriated to district disaster management fund, and 2.1 billion in the local disaster management fund.

Similarly, the Food Management and Trading Company has stored 2,234 metric tons of rice within its depot in remote districts, and 5,133 metric tons of rice for the valley and Terai districts. The authority has sufficient reserve for fifteen days for 83,000 homes and families. This way, 1,992 metric tons will be sufficient for a family of four which would consume an estimated 400 grams of rice every day.

Similarly, Nepal Army’s 10,874 personnel, Nepal Police’s 10,585 personnel, and Armed Police Force’s 9,9924 personnel along with thousands of volunteers could also be mobilized in times of disasters. A disaster management exercise titled ‘Practice Monsoon 4’ was conducted in Nagdah, Lalitpur Metropolitan City-24 on 7th June. The event was a collaborative effort involving the Raj Dal Gana of the Nepal Army, the District Disaster Management Committee, the District Administration Office of Lalitpur, Nepal Police, Armed Police Force, Nepal Red Cross Society, Nepal Scouts, and local residents. The initiative aimed to enhance disaster mitigation, prevention, and rescue operations for potential monsoon-related emergencies.

Similarly, in the wake of climate change, as the prevalence of such monsoon-related disasters continues to grow, NDRRMA officials maintain that the country must be proactive and scientific in its preparedness. Dr Dipendra Joshi, who is a climate and disaster management specialist has said despite increasing risks owing to climate change, the government has not demonstrated willingness to effectively address increasing risks owing to climate change.

Joshi states that all tiers of the government must work effectively to ensure the implementation of the plan prepared by the NDRRMA. Dr Dharmaraj Upreti, who is a specialist in climate change also states that government must adopt strategic measures to address disasters, which are increasing in the wake of climate change. According to him, the government’s approach to work after the disaster has happened is not an effective strategy.