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.


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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To create difference or just for an event?

Pratap Maharjan

Programme Manager, NDRC26910136_1041548549320647_8200229210526738146_o

While the entire country was celebrating National Earthquake Safety Day on January 16, 2018, Shankharapur was relatively quiet. Unlike last year, when thousands of people from Shankharapur and different organizations took over the street of Shankhu to commemorate NESD, this year only handful of youth and community members joined community level event. Shankhu, one of the most affected areas in the 2015 earthquake did not celebrate the day like others did.

What was achieved of last year’s national event in Shankharapur on NESD?

An intimidating question could be clearly observed in most of the people’s face. For the community it seemed to be just another day.

26757938_1041548915987277_2897871618450750529_oNevertheless, ward 6 and 7 of Shankharapur Municiplaity in collaboration with VSO and NDRC Nepal organized a rally to commemorate the day, Community Action Learners from United Kingdom and Nepal accompanied by children, youth, women, elderly people and ward 6 and 7 chairperson and members of disaster management committee of in a rally raised their voice along the street, narrow lanes and chowk of Sankhu.

They urged people to contribute for a capable community and local community to develop stronger foundation for earthquake safety, the slogan of NESD 2018. Along with it they also carried messages of constructing houses in safer location, identify safe location in community, practice safety measures to minimize impact of earthquake, abide by building codes while constructing houses and stay prepared.

Slogans chanted by merely 55 rally participants resonated in all 8 toles of Sankhu. The spectators observed the rally with hope and desperation; hope of some tangible and effective actions from municipality and desperation of reconstructing their houses and heritages. While some did not hesitate to ask if government will provide fund on time to reconstruct their house, the others relayed their wishes for success of the event. “It is quite inspiring and embarrassing at same time that the foreigners are carrying banners and raising their voice for our safety,” said an elderly observant of the rally. Attracted by Nepali chants by a foreigner, they expressed their concern on meaningful initiatives from government to translate words of slogan into action.  Seeing the rally pass along the remains of wrecked building, I felt need of such event to raise awareness. But looking at hope and desperation of people standing along the narrow lanes of Sankhu called for urgent tangible actions. The event concluded with an event to orient the community on insurance as risk transfer mechanism for community.

26850822_1041548775987291_1126882696666998299_oAttended by nearly 30 participants, mostly women the facilitator oriented the participants on insurance, and ways insurance can contribute to minimize the loss of insurance. Clearing the common myth, the facilitator said that insurance is an investment while it is commonly perceived as expense. “The insurance amount will definitely pay back,” he reiterated. Along with the concept of insurance he also discussed different types of insurance that is commonly offered by the insurance companies. The participants were excited to know that the government provides 75% of the insurance amount for animal husbandry and agricultural products.

The facilitator suggested communicating with local government to access these benefits. The participants raised their practical challenges of ownership of land, property valuation to get benefits to purchase insurance schemes. Responding to the queries the facilitator suggested in communicating to service providers for customized solutions. It was really satisfying to see people returning happy with the session as they called it a more practical approach of giving meaning to NESD. It was a forum where they were clarified on tools to reduce their risk and receive answer to the question that haunted time and again. “We are less aware of such companies here in Sankhu. It would have been much better if could have helped us to connect with the insurance provider with relevant schemes,” a participant suggested.

26849911_1041548792653956_6047222230889253166_oFrom the reflections from both events I felt that there is no denial that the celebration special days should be utilized to raise awareness. While we talk about capable community and local government, along with chanting slogans it is utmost important to widely discuss on tools and approaches to make community and local government capable. The community at Sankhu waits for practical solutions along with awaring them on earthquake safety. It is utmost important for organizers to take some approaches that will at least lay foundation for delivering practical solutions to community and making stakeholders more accountable to deliver those solutions.

PRAGATI, a Unique Project


Cecial Adhikari

Consortium Manager

In the past, Nepal has been able to build substantial capacities to mitigate disaster risks through Community Based Disaster Risk Reduction (CBDRR) projects. There has also been an increasing attention towards School Based Disaster Risk Reduction (SBDRR).  However, these efforts have mostly been limited to rural areas. Beside few projects, interventions in the urban areas are very limited.


The 2015 earthquake has laid bare the need to do more on preparedness, understanding existing disaster risk and capacity to manage information (collection, analysis and dissemination) and even more so in complex urban environment.

The project PRAGATI – Promoting Resilient and Sustainable Urban Growth by Augmenting DRR Capacity of Local Authorities through Active Private Sector Involvement is different from other conventional disaster risk reduction projects in many ways. This project, funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO) will be implemented for 18 months till the end of October 2018 in Changunarayan Municipality in Bhaktapur district and Shankharapur Municipality in Kathmandu district, builds on the impressive list of preparedness related interventions so far in Nepal. The project has incorporated the learning and the gaps from the implementation of urban DRR projects. The new learning from this project will also add value on scaling up DRM intervention in the urban areas. More specifically, PRAGATI is designed to address the four-priorities for action of the Sendai Framework (2015-2030). The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction charts the global course over the next 15 years. There are Seven Global Targets of the Framework which has been ensured through the above four priorities for Action.

IMG_1527Led by DCA, PRAGATI Project has brought three agencies together—DCA, ADRA and VSO—pooling together their unique experiences and expertise. A pilot project on Urban DRR for the consortium partners for EC and agencies, it is being implemented by two local partners FSCN in Bhaktapur and NDRC in Kathmandu. Both local partners have their own expertise in the DRR sector. NDRC already has strong reputation in the DRR sector and have implementing various projects with many agencies for the last xxx years. FSCN has established good working relationship based on mutual trust with the Changunarayan Municipality. FSCN engagements in the district began immediately after the earthquake on the response and later through different recovery projects. Recently, with support from DCA, FSCN has successfully completed hazard vulnerabilities and risks survey in xxx households. The household surveys were undertaken through the use of Magpi- a mobile phone application that DCA utilizes which accelerates the assessment process. Furthermore the consortium partners are also complementing the PRAGATI project with other urban projects currently being implemented in the Valley.

The project aims to bring together private sector, government and civil society to improve emergency response and preparedness capacity in the urban areas through three results (see box).

The project will adopt the current rural focused approaches and tools to urban areas with the use of digital technologies and platforms for undertaking risk assessment and visualization tools such as preparation of open street map that is useful for everyone, including the public. The project will continue discussions with various agencies including the academicians and universities for the introduction and application of cutting edge technologies.

IMG_1230Building on the existing national and district emergency operation centers, the project will work closely with the Municipality for the establishment of the Municipality Emergency Operation Centers (MEOC) along with the establishment of the Information Management System within the MEOC. The MEOC will collect risk information from various stakeholders in the municipality in order to utilize it for preparedness and response. The project will support development of Local Disaster and Climate Risk Plan (LDCRP) (at the municipality level – MDCRP) and its integration in local development plans. Along with the risk assessments, the project will also undertake preparation of Risk Sensitive Land use planning (RSLUP). The capacity of MEOC will also be strengthened to provide First Aid and conduct Light Search and Rescue (LSAR). In each of the two municipalities, DRR and Climate Change Learning Center will be established. Similarly, Municipal Disaster Preparedness and Response Plan (MDPRP) will also be prepared in both the municipalities. Many of the initiative above stands out from other DRR/M projects.

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Strengthening preparedness for future disasters

Ishwar Rauniyar

The 2015 earthquake woke up Nepalis to imbibe many lessons, including for those government and non-governmental organizations that had long been talking about earthquake preparedness. The event rendered clear the country’s readiness and capacity to cope with a mega-disaster.

Training to LDMC Members

Photo By Shakti Gurung/FSCN

“We saw people dying in front of our eyes, and we still couldn’t save them because we lacked proper equipment and knowledge,” says Radha Krishna Shrestha, Chairman of Ward 6 in the Shankharapur Municipality, Kathmandu district. “We had been talking about disaster preparedness for so many years prior to that. But when the earthquake actually struck, neither the government agencies nor community members were sufficiently equipped to respond.”

Chairman Shrestha is hopeful, however, that things are changing for the better. “That disaster taught us a great deal about the need to be prepared, not just for earthquakes, but for all kinds of possible disasters including fires, floods, landslides, even traffic accidents and electrocution.”

Those lessons have borne some fruit: A number of initiatives are now in place to better prepare for similar disasters in the future.

MDMC Formation

MDMC Formation Programme

One significant example of this is the recent endorsement of the Disaster Management Act by the government of Nepal, representing a much-awaited leap forward in terms of strengthening disaster resilience in the country. Guided by the Act, local authorities are also stepping into gear.

A clear result of this new commitment has been the formation of ward and municipal-level Disaster Management Committees (W/MDMC). Amardip Sunuwar, an official at the Ministry of Federal Affairs and Local Development, says that these committees are designed to bring together people from different walks of life to discuss disaster management and come up with concrete measures to improve upon their existing capacities to prepare for and respond to disasters, with a view to minimize loss of life and property.

Training to LDMC members

Photo By – Shakti Gurung/FSCN

“The committees will engage in mapping disaster risks and hazards in a given area and create detailed profiles of the same,” Sunuwar says. “This will enable preparedness and response mechanisms to be tailored according to an area’s particular vulnerabilities.”

After the 2015 earthquake, the need for better disaster mapping in order to manage and mitigate risks while putting in place an effective response measure has been made abundantly clear.

It was precisely in this vein that the Promoting Resilient and Sustainable Urban Growth by Augmenting DRR Capacity of Local Authorities Through Active Private Sector Involvement or PRAGATI project, with funding from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), has been coordinating with local government authorities to set up MDMCs in two municipalities of Kathmandu Valley—Changunarayan and Shankharapur. The project is being executed by a consortium of three organizations—Dan Church Aid (DCA), Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) and Volunteer Service Overseas (VSO)—with local implementing partners in the form of Friends Service Council Nepal (FSCN) in Changunarayan and the National Disaster Risk Reduction Centre (NDRC) Nepal in Shankharapur.


Painting to Sensitize DRR Issue

In a bid to sensitize issues of Disaster Risk Reduction and celebrate International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) 2017, the PRAGATI project organised a rally and painting competition (#HomeSafeHomeTheme) on 13th October in Shankharapur Municipality in collaboration with Lumanti Support Group for Shelter and in coordination with Shankharapur municipality. The project also held an interaction programme in Changunarayan Municipality to celebrate the day.

The project is funded by European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO) and implemented by DCA Nepal, ADRA Nepal and VSO through their local partners NDRC in Shankharapur Municipality and FSCN in Changunarayan Municipality.

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