Policy level intervention sought for urban safetyExperts on urban planning and disaster mitigation have stressed on the need for integrating disaster risk reduction (DRR) issues in development policies of the newly defined local units.
Experts on urban planning and disaster mitigation have stressed on the need for integrating disaster risk reduction (DRR) issues in development policies of the newly defined local units.
Speaking at the programme, Scoping of Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction and Urban Disaster Risk Reduction in New Local Government Structure of Nepal, jointly organised by National Disaster Risk Reduction Centre and ADRA Nepal, in Kathmandu on Tuesday, they suggested prioritising DRR in the policies that local levels will be formulating in the near future.
“This is a good opportunity for including DRR related provisions in the local level policies which they will be designing themselves,” said Krishna Bahadur Raut, the head of Disaster Risk Management Division at the Home Ministry.
After the state restructuring the country now has 263 urban areas - four metropolises, 13 sub-metropolitan cities and 243 municipalities - where nearly 54 per cent of the total population resides. Rapid migration of people to urban areas, unregulated construction and environmental degradation have added pressure to urban environment and increased disaster risk. Meanwhile, very little has been done at the disaster preparedness front.
Experts say that a common misconception that only rural areas are prone to disasters has also made urban areas vulnerable.
In reality, urban areas, being the hub for facilities and backbone for economy of the country, deserve more attention when it comes to disaster preparedness and management. According the World Bank report (2011), urban areas generated 62 per cent of the GDP as compared to 28 per cent in 1975.
Urban planner Suman Maher Shrestha said it was high time that policymakers and disaster management experts shifted their focus to urban areas.
He suggested that local and central bodies should focus on implementation of development policies and regulations.
“We have had so many plans and policies, but we have not been successful in implementing them,” said Shrestha.
Surya Narayan Shrestha, deputy executive director at National Society of Earthquake Technology-Nepal, said lack of trained manpower is said to be one of the major challenges for implementation of DRR policies.
“We lack trained manpower at the centre, let alone the local level. The number of engineers and urban planners, and their qualification and training should be standardised into policies,” he said.