MAIN DISASTER CONCERNS IN NEPAL AND A SUCCINCT DESCRIPTION OF THE TYPES OF INFORMATION FOR DISASTER MITIGATION
Nepal is a small mountainous
country lying in the lap of the Central Himalayas in south Asia. Three-fourth portion of the country is occupied by hills
and mountains together with mighty Himalayas. The terrain of the country is very unique with Mighty Himalayas in the northern
part sloping downward in the form of mountains, hills and flat plain called Terai in the southern part. The terrain rises
from 60m above mean sea level in the south to the top of the world i.e. Mt. Everest (8,848m) in the north. The climate of
the country, therefore, varies from sub-tropical in the southern region to temperate in the north and alpine in the further
north. Most of the rainfall occurs during monsoon that starts from mid-June and lasts till mid-September. The unique physiological
feature together with the monsoon-rain is the main factor for various disasters such as soil erosion, landslide and flash
flood. The fragile geology with dynamic tectonic processes makes the situation even more complex as the kingdom falls within
the seismically active zone (Pokharel, 2002). On the other hand, poverty and illiteracy of the people are other human factors
causing man-induced disasters in the country.
Every year, particularly
during rainy season, the entire nation suffers from natural disasters leading to the loss of innumerable lives and property.
The country has experienced great natural disasters in the past like the earthquakes of 1934, 1980 and 1988 and the flood
of 1993 which claimed numerous human lives and caused irreparable damages of public property (Pokharel, 2002). This year too,
hundreds of people have been killed and huge amount of property damaged by landslides alone.
The Natural Disaster Relief
Act, 1982 of His Majesty's Government of Nepal (HMGN) is the first Act so far that recognizes earthquake, fire, storm, flood,
landslide, heavy rainfall, drought, famine and epidemics as disaster (Pokharel, 2002). According to this Act, HMGN has constituted
the Central Disaster Relief Committee under the chairmanship of the Home Minister in order to formulate and implement the
policies and programs relating to the natural disaster relief work and to undertake other necessary measures thereof. Moreover,
the Central Committee prepares specific norms of relief assistance to be provided to the disaster victims of the affected
areas in cash and/or in kind through the District Natural Disaster Relief Committees.
According to Pokharel (2002),
the Ministry of Home Affairs has to work as the apex body in relation to disaster management in Nepal. Formulation of national
policies and their implementation, preparedness and mitigation of disaster, immediate rescue and relief works, data collection
and dissemination, collection and distribution of funds and resources are the vital functions of the Ministry. It has its
network throughout the country to cope with the natural disasters. The Chief District Officers in the districts act as the
crisis managers at the time of natural disasters. In 2000, HMGN has established 'the Department of Narcotics Control &
Disaster Management' to strengthen the capability of the government in disaster management. It is now the focal agency with
regard to disaster management in Nepal. The main responsibilities and functions of this Department are to:
control and mitigate natural disasters;
carry out rescue and relief works in disaster affected areas
so as to reduce the loss of life and property ;
mitigate the sufferings of the people;
develop hazard maps;
rehabilitate the disaster victims in coordination with the
manage funds and resources to relieve the disaster victims;
promote disaster awareness campaign through training and publications;
collect and analyze disaster data and disseminate information.
Nepal also suffers from various types
of disasters caused by the action of water such as soil erosion, landslide, slope failure, flood, bank erosion etc. In order
to mitigate the water induced disasters in the country, HMGN has established the Department of Water Induced Disaster Prevention
(DWIDP) in 2000 (DWIDP, 2002). This Department carries out river training and landslide works along with water induced disaster
management activities in different rivers of the country.
Besides, the Department of Forests and the Department of Soil and Water Conservation both under
the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation of HMGN also carry out various activities like reforestation as well as afforestation
in the denuded hills, scientific management of the forests resources in the Terai as well as in the hills, soil and water
conservation works etc. in order to mitigate natural disasters such as soil erosion, landslide and flood caused by deforestation
throughout the country.