What is needed now to recover from the impact of Nepal’s earthquake?

Posted by ap507 at Apr 28, 2015 09:45 AM |
Dr Nibedita S Ray-Bennett discusses how efforts must be made at a community, national and international level to facilitate recovery phases in Nepal
What is needed now to recover from the impact of Nepal’s earthquake?

Source: The Guardian; Nepalese police and volunteers clear the rubble while looking for survivors at the compound of a collapsed temple in Kathmandu. Photograph: Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

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A well-co-ordinated national, international and community based effort is urgently needed to facilitate the recovery and restoration phases in Nepal.

These efforts have to be underpinned by three inter-related responses: critical, tame and reflective. Critical response involves decision making in uncertain and crucial times such as saving human lives.

This earthquake has affected both urban and rural areas and the National Authority for Disaster Risk Management (NADRM) must make sure that the rural areas are given equal attention much like their urban counterparts.

Decisions related to critical responses are further needed to be enhanced through tame response such as space technology. This is the time for NADRM to capitalise on the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC’s) regional and international treaties (such as the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific or the International Charter ‘Space and Major Disasters’) to mobilise up-to-date satellite images to gear up not only search and rescue efforts in the affected areas but also put effective relief effort in the areas that are in need.

Sanitation, safe drinking water, reproductive health kits, mobile health facilities are the other critical responses that are desperately needed to stop the outbreaks of diarrhoea, disease and ill health in the aftermath of an earthquake.

Control of epidemic is pivotal in a country like Nepal with very low human development indicators. A report published by European Commission, UNDP and NSet in 2008 noted that between 1971 and 2006, epidemics killed more people annually than natural disasters such as landslide, flood, flash floods, earthquake, fire, avalanche.

Lastly, the recovery phase has to be guided by reflective response. United Nation’s international framework for disaster risk reduction (DRR) ‘The Hyogo Framework for Action’ has ushered an era of risk management with the involvement of multiple stakeholders, international community, NGOs, NGO Federations and the like.

This arrangement has demonstrated immense potent in building strength and resilience of national authorities in the recovery and mitigation phase. Concomitantly this arrangement has also heightened confusions and lack of responsibilities of the government and that of the myriad of NGOs involved in relief, rescue and aid efforts.

This is the time for NADRM to lead, reflect and make sense of the next level of crisis management. This crisis has to be averted through reflective response which should involve a systemic thinking such as promoting NGO-GO co-ordination to design, plan and avoid duplication of rescue and relief activities.

It should also involve reaching to the survivors, bystanders and the international community in an innovative ways such as social media, local radio, newspapers and public speeches.

Lastly, it should also involve promoting the words of hope, kindness, altruism, philanthropy, volunteerism and development in order to begin the process of building a better and an earthquake resilient Nepal.

Dr Nibedita S Ray-Bennett is a Lecturer in Risk Management at the University of Leicester’s Civil Safety and Security Unit. She co-manages the MSc in Risk Crisis and Disaster Management. She is also the Director of her short course: Practising Reflection: Reflective Practices in Disaster Risk Reduction.

She can be contacted at: nsrb1@le.ac.uk

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