Tapping the untapped – Private Sector on Disaster Risk Management

Among others, engagement with the private sector on Disaster Risk Reduction makes PRAGATI Project unique. PRAGATI is an urban Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) project being implemented in Sankharapur Municipality in Kathmandu and Changunarayan Municipality in Bhaktapur District. Realizing the importance of partnership with private sector, the project is working closely with the private sector, identifying areas of collaboration and investment, building their disaster risk management capacity and preparing them for effective response. The project has facilitated the preparation of Disaster Risk Sensitive Tourism Development Plan (DRSTDP) for Changunarayan municipality. It is working with hotels and homestays together with small and medium enterprises in both the municipalities by providing technical support on preparation of their business continuity plans.

Cecial Adhikari, Consortium Manager

The 2015 mega earthquake in Nepal incurred massive damage throughout the country affecting eight million people. The death toll crossed over 9,000, injured 20,000 and a half-million homes were destroyed. Housing was the most affected sector including schools and hospitals. There was also significant impact to the tourism industry.  This has highlighted gaps in resilience – particularly in business continuity planning and implementing and enforcing building policies and standards.

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The project location, Nagarkot, in Changunarayan, is a hill-side touristic destination for both non-Nepalese and Nepalese as weekend gateways. It is particularly famous for sunrise views of the Himalayan range including the Mount Everest. More than 60 big hotels, around 35 homestays and 150 restaurants were damaged due to the earthquake. Another project location, Sankhu, in Sankharapur, is an ancient historical town. It is one of the oldest settlements in Kathmandu with the abundance of houses built of burnt and unburnt clay bricks. An assessment showed more than 90 per cent of the buildings, mostly traditional houses, were completely damaged.

The project municipalities are the worst affected areas within Kathmandu Valley. However, there is no authentic records of losses incurred. Therefore, the project is currently documenting the earthquake memories that will archive the damage and losses through the digital stories.

Against this backdrop – PRAGATI Project was designed to work with the private sector along with the municipalities as they are two sides of the same coin. During the project design, various consultations were commenced with the private sector entities in both the municipalities such as hoteliers, Homestay Association, Local Tourism Development Committee, representatives from construction materials suppliers such as interlocking cement bricks and timber, food grain processing factories including rice and lentil mills and a private hospital.

8This note has been prepared highlighting the benefits of working with private sector based on the review of number of relevant documents, experience and initial learning gained during the project implementation, consultations with the experts and the local private entrepreneurs.

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“The Projects should respect the need of the communities.”

Subarna Shrestha has been serving as Mayor of Sankharapur Municipality in Kathmandu for the past one year. For the second issue of the PRAGATI newsletter, Mayor Shrestha spoke to Ishwar Rauniyar, the Communication Officer of PRAGATI Project, about his views on the role of development partners in Nepal after the earthquake.

Mayor 1Excerpts:

  1. How do you see the reconstruction in Shankharapur?

Shankharapur Municipality was one of the most affected areas during 2015 earthquake.  Nearly 6000 houses were damaged partially or completely. Numerous culturally and traditionally significant monuments were also damaged. To be honest, reconstruction was not gaining any pace at the beginning; it is slightly gaining the pace but still it is not satisfactory.

  1. What are the main hurdles and gaps for slow pace of reconstruction?

I find inadequate awareness as a major reason for delay. Those whose houses were completely damaged had a misconception that the government will provide all required support to reconstruct their house. Because of the same they were less motivated to construct their house with their own resource. Neither the local government clarified it nor the affected people realize it earlier. Hence reconstruction was slow. After living in temporary shelters for more than 2 years post earthquake with little support coming from government, they have realized that government has just extended minor support for reconstruction. Ever since number of people reconstructing houses has increased.

  1. In the post earthquake scenario, many NGOs, INGOs have come to Shankharapur to work. How do you see their engagement?

With financial support from Oxfam, Lumanti Support group for shelter, Homenet, Lutheran World Relief are working in the most affected area. Lumanti has provided technical support to the community facilitating the administrative process and development of house design. This has also helped in increasing motivation of people and pace of reconstruction. Homenet supported in livelihood recovery of the people whose home based enterprise was disrupted by the earthquake by providing those materials and working space to earn their living. WHR also supported single women to recover their livelihood.

Recently PRAGATI project is added to the list which is more focused on urban disaster risk reduction and is carrying activities aligning to need of municipality. I believe, along with recovery and reconstruction from different projects, this project will be helpful to build back better and prepare the community for future disaster.

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Reviving Ponds to Strengthen Fire Preparedness

What seems to be a gutter fl owing across the city of Shankhu was once most accessible water canal that flowed along the doorstep of nearly 1000 household located in 8 Toles (small villages) of the settlement. Few artistic stone spouts are gaping dry to remind this generation of the source of the water in Sankhu in the past. The PRAGATI project has joined hands with the elected bodies to restore some of the ponds in the area, mainly for extinguishing accidental fire and to promote tourism.

PRATAP MAHARJAN, Project Coordinator, NDRC

In ancient time, ponds and canal were key components of water management system in the cities. There were three major components in the system (i) the rajkulo (the water canals), (ii) the ponds and wells (iii) stone spouts. The system integrated these components to ensure water delivery at doorstep and avoid wastage. The rajkulo was meant to irrigate the agriculture land, recharge the ponds and also for daily chores.

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“The ponds are meant to recharge ground water and manage micro climate. From a disaster control perspective, people managed to have water in their community to put off fire since they didn’t have fire brigade back then,” says Pramod Simkhada, Chief Executive officer of Shankharapur Municipality. The wells and stone spouts were the major source of drinking water. Altogether 18 stone spouts (nine inside the settlement and nine outside) served people for different purposes. At present only five are functional.

With the change in water supply system these wells and stone spouts, ponds and rajkulo are gradually losing their value. Wells are used when there is no alternative to drinking water or when supply falls short.  The older generation still values them. Though many of the younger generation are “aware” of its value it is merely part of their daily life. Owing to the unmanaged urbanisation, the route of the rajkulo was disturbed, the “gifts” of modern society (plastic waste particularly) clogged the route while inadequate maintenance resulted in deposit of  sediments narrowing down the rajkulo, a major supplier of water for ponds and hence operation of the entire system.

These entities of water system were integrated with the utility and cultural values that ensured their conservation. Some ponds are symbolic such as kalash pokhari represents “kalash” (good omen) while entering the city through “bhau dhokha” (a gate specified for entry of new brides in the settlement). The lotus from the “pala pukhu” is offered to Bajrayogini temple- one of the main goddess for the city. A pond is an important part of the Gatha Mangal festival. Besides cultural value, these water resources held importance from disaster response perspective- particularly fire. The settlement is compact and dense; possibility of spreading fire is very high. Hence, having the sources of water close was the most practical way to put off accidental fire.

Hazard identification process has reckoned fire as a major hazard after earthquake in the settlement. Although the municipality is in the process of managing fire brigade, it is difficult for them to navigate through the narrow lanes. Hence, not having water resource in the settlement poses higher risk of damage in case fire starts.

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Homestay struggles to retain its lost ‘beauty’

SHAKTI GURUNG,

Project Coordinator, FSCN

Nagarkot Community Homestay

Nagarkot Community Homestay is located in Bastola Village of Changunarayan Municipality. This homestay location is 11.3 KM North East from Tribhuwan International airport.

This homestay consists of 17 units.

It was a good alternative source of income for the families before the 2015 earthquake. The PRAGATI project’s stakeholders mapping action has identified that average yearly income of the homestay was from NRS 150, 000 to 200,000.

The 2015 earthquake damaged all homestay units forcing the operators to shut down their services for months.

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“All the units were damaged by the quakes and aftershocks and for many days and nights our families stayed under a tent,” says Suraj Bastola, President of Nagarkot Community Homestay. “We had to cancel all the advance bookings due to the damage.”

He shared that the business thrived well and they were also planning to launch effective promotional activities. Unfortunately, the earthquake destroyed not only the houses but the future prospects the business could bring on.

Each homestay unit was the home of 17 families. All of them have red stickers that make them eligible to receive the government grant but some policy constraints are discouraging them to go for reconstruction.

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As per new policies, these homestay families are compelled to allot a part of their land for the road access leaving very limited area of land for reconstruction. They need to follow the policy in order to qualify for money to be received from the municipality. Some of the families are investing their own money to reconstruct the houses on the land where they exactly stood before.

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Support to develop risk sensitive contingency/emergency response plan of private hospital and small and medium scale enterprises

1Training cum workshop on development of contingency plan was organized in coordination with Shankharapur Business Group and Local Disaster and Climate Resilient Committee. Altogether, 22 participants joined in representing Small and Medium Scale Enterprises (SMEs)- Mills (furniture and food processing), Brick manufacturing factories, Schools, Private hospitals, and Shankharapur Business Group. The three-day event merged the theoretical presentation followed by group work and visit of nearby school and hospital to have better comprehension of evacuation routes and risk elements. The participants developed their evacuation maps during the event along with a draft sketch of their contingency plan.

2 The final draft of plans will be shared with the project team and will be placed at their institutions. The activity has helped visualize the risk factors to the participants (representative of private sector), sensitized that a small investment or simply perception change can help them minimize the risk they are prone to. It has motivated them for disaster preparedness to ensure continuity of their post disaster initiatives. This will support in preparing the community for rapid response and continue their services during and after the disaster.

Training on Community Search and Rescue

29472414_1112065625601943_2981068218115817472_oA-five-day long training on community search and rescue was conducted for the 24 team members of a task force team of ward 6 and 8 in technical support of Nepal Red Cross Society, Bhaktapur. The objective of the training was to enhance knowledge and understanding among stakeholders on disaster management, develop the concept of first aid and community search and rescue, develop the knowledge and skill of helping disaster affected people, develop the skill and knowledge of identifying the needs of disaster affected people, enhance knowledge and understanding on basic first aid and search and rescue, enhance understanding of the importance of basic first aid during search and rescue, enhance the knowledge of coordination, leadership, team mobilization and communication during search and rescue, and prepare the human resources to support search and rescue including first aid during disaster. The team will be an asset of the municipality to support during any kind of disaster.folder 1

Basic First Aid Training

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A three-day long basic first aid training was conducted for 24 members for the Task Force Team, in the technical support of Nepal Red Cross Society, Bhaktapur. The team included representatives from the communities and private sectors. This team will be kept intact as to support during any disaster as well as other emergencies.

7Objectives of the training were to enhance knowledge and understanding on disaster management, introduce concept, principle and process along with objective of first aid, to discuss and determine do’s and don’ts of first aid during an emergency and to enhance knowledge and skills regarding first aid.