City at Risk

Jun 4th, 2014 | By | Category: Disasters and Climate Change, Nepal

23690Republica: Kathmandu is a natural disaster-prone city. Nepal itself is ranked fourth at risk country for climate change. Due to these potential risks, Nepal has no other option than adopt measures of Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and Climate Change Adaptation.

Among many problems in Kathmandu, the noteworthy are bad structures, limited and narrow road access, stop start water supply, haphazard drainage outlet, pollution, environmental degradation, appalling river management, lack of free and open space, treatment facility, liquefaction, excessive exploitation of underground water, energy supply and so forth. All these problems pose serious challenges to the safety and resilience of the city.

To save Kathmandu and protect the inhabitants, a plan is required at city level to recognize the impact of environmental hazards and climate change on urban safety and sustainability. Likewise, understanding of the relationship between existing policies, vulnerable growth pattern and disaster risk of Kathmandu city are other important aspects. Preparation for timely intervention is required.

Assessing urban risks is another important step. Hazard assessment as well as exposure and vulnerability assessment comprises disaster risk management. This will open avenues for governing the process towards resilience which facilitates city resilience planning. Without public help it is not possible to take any further steps; hence massive awareness programs are necessary. Mechanisms to mobilize multiple stakeholders are prime needs of the process. Only combined effort will drive process towards common goal.

While planning for resilience, needs and gaps assessment process must be carried out to cover all necessary aspects. All stakeholders involved must understand DRM and climate change adaptation measures so that they can identify and prioritize the local resilience measures effectively.

For technical analysis and vulnerability assessment, trained and experience manpower are needed to understand various components of risk assessment. In this process qualitative risk assessment measure is necessary. Use of maps, templates and questionnaires are main tools for this assessment. After that, composition of data requirement must be done. To make it more effective, review of best practices and study examples of past events has to be done.

Satellite imagery and geographic information systems models need to be used for risk assessment. At the same time understanding of remote sensing is essential for risk mapping. Use of mathematical models in loss scenario also needs to be carefully looked into.

Institutional development and socio-economic assessment is another important process. Institutional assessment method is prerequisite to apply to see who is doing what with respect to climate change adaptation and DRM. This assessment is necessary to evaluate gaps in the plans, policies and institution to build resilience in the society. Climate scenario building and probabilistic risk assessment is also required to generate hazard-based scenario to understand global and regional circulation for developing climate scenario modeling for Kathmandu. Same models need to be interpreted to use in resilience planning. For clear cut understanding of this process review of best practices is essential.

Funds and economic aspects play a crucial role to achieve success of any project. Assessment of financial aspect for urban DRM and resilience is required to understand the dimension of financing. A due thought is required on financing for disaster risk reductions covering pre- and post-disaster financing mechanism. Post-disaster funding process must be preset to get necessary funding in real time situation. In normal practice government and national action for funding process and international instruments for financing are main sources of funding for the crisis situation.

Kathmandu Metropolitan City office must finance DRM. Sufficient funding arrangement is necessary for launching programs and activities to enhance level of resilience and also effective financial mechanism is required for climate change adaptation. Transparent and good governance is necessary to make sure allocated funds and budget are used properly. In Nepal insurance related instrument for DRM is not popular but it can play substantial role to maintain notion of financial gap. Insurance is considered as one of the disaster financing tools which can also be used to identify cost and benefit for pre-disaster situation. Financing process is an opportunity to reduce risk by pre-disaster financing mechanism. Without adequate funds it is not possible to acquire resources to build capacity of vulnerable communities.

Final step of this process is the building and implementation of the Local Resilience Acton Plan (LRAP). For this process appreciation of the cyclic process of urban resilience building: planning, implementing, evaluating and feeding the evaluation results back into planning process. The first step is LRAP development. Identifying suitable risk management option and developing alternative for Kathmandu city comes next which will be followed by prioritizing options and development of the recommendations for LRAP.

For resilience, efforts must be made at the community level. Community participation and stakeholders’ involvement in developing LRAP and its implementation process holds the key to the successful resilience plan. In this process consultation program at different levels in different occasion plays a vital role. In Kathmandu, only the district or local level consultation will not be sufficient as it also requires consultations at regional, national and international level. A sound and effective communication mechanism is another aspect that can play pivotal role for the success of LRAP.

Urban DRM is a complicated process. It requires clear understanding of the methodology and integrated approach. Stakeholders involved must understand different types of potential disasters, their causes and impacts. For its success, review of structural and nonstructural measures for DRM, decision making tools, alternative institutional arrangement and monitoring methods is necessary to manage risk of vulnerable society.

It is for sure that in case of mega level disaster, Kathmandu will face a complex humanitarian crisis. Therefore, LRAP is mandatory process to make Kathmandu safe and resilient. For this noble cause, the financial assistance of institutions like the World Bank or any other multilateral donors is essential to provide necessary support to achieve the desired objective.

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