The diverse geo-climatic conditions render the country vulnerable to natural disasters especially during the rainy season. As monsoon approaches, it has already created fear of devastation among the local settlements in different parts of the country. Floods and landslides are triggered by extreme rainfalls every monsoon and the catastrophic effects are felt in the hills and plains alike. There is an unexpected shift in monsoon rain patterns in recent decades and scale of rain-induced disasters are growing which scientists attribute to global warming and climate change phenomenon. As a result, settlements are swept away, lives are lost and properties are damaged and destroyed. Vital infrastructures such as roads, bridges and power houses and transmission lines also get damaged. While there are flash floods and landslides in the hill slopes, Terai plains come under inundation. This calls for sound preparations to minimise the effects of disasters.
Nepal has been facing disastrous situations almost every year due to excessive rains. One of such disaster prone area is Bajura in Sudurpaschim Province that suffered devastating floods and landslides in May, June, September, and August last year. The Bajura victims of monsoon disaster are living in the same vulnerable areas now as they were not resettled in safer locations. And as the monsoon season approaches, the same fear starts to haunt them. Now the nation is experiencing pre-monsoon rains but the Bajura people are gripped by the fear of havoc that normally happens in monsoon starting around mid-June. Their fear is not farfetched but based on reality that they experienced last year. If the nation is not well prepared to deal with the disaster, the episode can repeat this year, too.
Therefore, the concerned authorities should identify weaknesses from last year’s floods and landslides and also learn a lesson and should alter the preparedness plan accordingly. The plight of the people affected by the natural disasters should be addressed timely. The federal government agencies need to map the places where the settlements are highly vulnerable and risky. There is a need to have a sound approach to make functional plans to save lives and properties. The anti-disaster agencies at the provincial and local level governments should also be well-equipped and mobilised to handle disaster-related incidents because they are the ones that have to spring into action before the help from the federal level arrives. The policies and guidelines should be implemented strictly.
In order to mitigate the potential losses and damages from flash flood, landslide and inundation, each local level should be supplied with the timely weather forecast information. They should be given early warning and kept on alert. Communities can be given weather forecast notices in their mobile phones which everyone possesses now. Teams need to be amply trained on search, rescue and rehabilitation missions. This is not something that should be thought about when monsoon is right at the corner. Emergency response can be effective only when there is a long term plan, constant training and drill works.
For this, the government should allocated adequate fund in its budget programme. Special arrangements should be made to deal with the situation like bridge collapse, airport runway inundation and road damage. Community buildings need to be built in every ward where disaster affected people can be temporarily kept and taken care of. Medical teams should be kept on standby for deploying in affected areas. Supply of clean bottled water and packaged food is essential. Medical personnel need to reach the victims to make sure that there is no outbreak of diseases in the aftermath of a monsoon disaster.