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Country has now twin challenges of coronavirus infection and monsoon-induced disasters

So far, 9,000 plus people have been infected with the coronavirus while 22 have succumbed to the virus and the country has faced an immense economic crisis.
(Baitadi’s Musyachaur market monitoring. Stakeholders are monitoring the situation saying that black market may take place during the shutdownBaitadi, 21June, 2020. Photo: N24)

Narayan Dhungana, KATHMANDU:- At a time when the country is fighting to contain the pandemic coronavirus, it is also likely to witness the challenges of monsoon-induced disasters.
To combat the possible damages of human lives and physical properties, massive preparations are realized.
Experts have argued that the monsoon-induced disasters should not be belittled despite the country was focusing much on controlling the spread of coronavirus infection.
Expert on Disaster Risk Management Dr Krishna Devkota said that the country is likely to fight against the multiple disasters this year with the beginning of monsoon season adding that we have to maintain physical distancing to remain safe from the coronavirus infection.
So far, 9,000 plus people have been infected with the coronavirus while 22 have succumbed to the virus and the country has faced an immense economic crisis.
Amid this crisis, the situation of monsoon-induced disasters is also appalling. According to the Nepal Disaster Report 2019 released by the Ministry of Home Affairs, almost 1,000 people lose their lives due to the monsoon related disasters while causing Rs 7 billion in loss every year. Nepal is ranked the most vulnerable country in South Asia in terms of deaths caused by the water-induced disasters.
Globally, Nepal is ranked 4th and 11th in terms of its relative vulnerability to climate change and earthquakes, respectively and 30th in terms of global risk for inundation but the nation’s preparations to combat such natural disasters are not quite enough.
The study shows that 70 to 80 per cent population in the country is affected by one or the other disasters each year. It is shared that 335,000 people are directly affected from such disasters each year and of them 50 per cent are children.
Dr Devkota shared that Tarai region is found doubly affected in terms of disaster risk. He added that the region is badly affected due to COVID-19 outbreak and it could be more vulnerable to inundation in the rainy season.
Dr Devkota added that the situation would be worse if such disasters were not properly managed with effective measures.
Meanwhile, Ministry of Home Affairs seems alert in managing the risk as it recently has approved disaster management procedures.
Minister Ram Bahadur Thapa has urged all stakeholders to assist the government to combat disaster as country is already facing hardships due to deadly COVID-19 outbreak and huge resources and human resources are used in the campaign.
Experts stressed that preparedness against monsoon-induced disaster should not be poorly handled.
Concerns were raised on the role of local levels over incidents of monsoon induced disaster in the past. The role played by local levels to control the spread of coronavirus infection is highly lauded. Landslide, flooding and inundation take place at the same time in the country during monsoon.
The Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force, Nepal, personnel being the frontline warriors have been involved in activities to prevent and control coronavirus infection. So, the security bodies are not able to focus their attention in preparedness to control monsoon-induced disaster as like previous years.
However, the security bodies said that they have carried out preparedness against monsoon-induced disasters along with the activities for prevention and control of COVID-19.
NA Spokesperson Niraj Bahadur Shahi said, “The security personnel deputed for COVID-19 and monsoon-induced disasters are separate. Nepal Police is also carrying out necessary preparations for the same.”
Preparedness is the major measure to stop losses caused by monsoon -induced disasters. Preparedness is a must to stop losses from flooding, landslides, inundations and fire recurring every year. Making preparedness against monsoon-induced disasters in the country at a time when it is facing disaster created due to COVID-19 is more challenging in present situation.
Monsoon-induced disasters make huge losses of lives and property in the country every year. Though preparation along with preparedness, rescue after disaster and relief plan is made in the country, general people complained it saying incomplete.
Experts said that federal, states and local levels should involve in preparedness tasks during the hour of disaster. RSS

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