Nepal is very vulnerable to various types of natural disasters. They cannot be stopped, but their magnitude can be reduced by taking preventive measures for which pragmatic government policies and technological advancement are of the utmost importance. Disaster risk management is on the verge of going digital in Nepal. The National Authority for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management is a legal framework for understanding disaster risk. It has a Building Information Platform Against Disaster (BIPAD) portal which has been developed by bringing together all credible digital and spatial data available from different government agencies, non-governmental organizations, academic institutions and research organizations into one platform.
It is an integrated and comprehensive national disaster information management system designed to foster partnership and sharing of disaster data. It builds on the concept of creating a national portal integrated with independent platforms for national, provincial and municipal governments with a bottom-up disaster data partnership approach. Users can view alerts of various disaster events nationwide by province, district and local unit on the BIPAD portal. It also shows the basic details of the incident, including losses, so users can analyze the severity of the incident and react accordingly.
Early warning system
Disaster information management systems and online databases are being developed with functionality to increase accessibility for public use. They include SAHANA, DesInventar, the Nepal Disaster Risk Reduction Portal, the Nepalese Government Geoportal, and primary data from the Real-Time Water and Flood Monitoring System of the Department of Hydrology and Meteorology. The department has a government mandate to monitor all hydrological and meteorological activities in Nepal. He established hydrometeorological stations in Rasuwa, Solukhumbu, Kaski, Dolpa, Humla, Dolakha, Jumla, Sankhuwasabha and Manang. These stations collect data on temperature, precipitation, relative humidity, solar radiation, wind speed and direction, and water level. The information helps to issue predictions and early warnings to minimize disaster losses. The early warning system installed by USAID issued a flood alert in the Kankai River Basin via SMS in 2017, resulting in few deaths although many houses were submerged and the crops and livestock are destroyed.
Despite the huge opportunities, there are some challenges for disaster risk reduction in Nepal. The main challenge is that our disaster management models are based on historical data and observations, assuming that the past is a reasonable guide for the present and the future while such assumptions are now being made obsolete on almost all occasions. fronts. Risks are emerging and increasingly non-linear, but our conventional response is linear. There is a lack of information, technology and knowledge in the practical aspects of disaster management. So far, limited work has been done on scientific risk assessments. There are not enough hydrometeorological stations while some of the existing stations have been damaged and not updated. The country lacks advanced technologies, including early warning systems. There is weak coordination between different disaster related agencies, and few non-governmental organizations are willing to work in disaster preparedness, mitigation and rehabilitation work. Rapid urbanization and unplanned settlements combined with a lack of public awareness of preventive measures to reduce the impact of natural disasters are other challenges.
In 1970, Cyclone Amphan killed 300,000 people in Bangladesh. In 1991, the tropical cyclone killed an estimated 145,000 people; but in May 2020, only 26 people died while nearly 2 million people were evacuated on time. This was made possible by high-resolution digital weather forecast information and 24-hour tropical cyclone monitoring by three satellites over the Bay of Bengal. This example shows that Nepal can also explore applicable solutions for disaster risk reduction. Responsiveness, technology and coordination are the three important factors to focus on for effective disaster risk management. More scientific research is needed to understand disaster risk. The disaster information management system needs to be institutionalized at all levels of government, from local to federal. Likewise, coordination with international cooperation should be done for the transfer of knowledge and technology.
Coordination can be done with the Central Bureau of Statistics during the census to generate, manage and digitize the data. For processing and modeling big data, high-power computing machines such as supercomputers should be provided. Sufficient meteorological and hydrological data as well as sediment dump stations should be installed. Existing hydrometric stations should be upgraded with the latest early warning system and automatic hydrological stations including telemetry system. Likewise, information technology and user-friendly technologies should be developed for the early warning system. Satellite emergency mapping needs to be improved both in terms of quality and response by improving radio systems and technology based on geographic information systems.
Drones for disaster monitoring
Collaboration should be established with multiple stakeholders to use drones for disaster monitoring and damage assessment and robots for rescue operations. Real-time information should be provided via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube, which should be further analyzed and validated by artificial intelligence to filter and categorize information and perform predictive analysis. The Internet of Things, including sensors, can send alerts about potentially dangerous situations. For example, river levels can be monitored by sensors to detect possible flooding, and ground sensors can detect earth movements that could signal earthquakes. Tree sensors can detect if a fire has started by testing temperature, humidity and carbon dioxide levels.
Non-governmental organizations must be motivated to work in remote areas affected by disasters. Planned settlements are necessary and building codes must be strictly enforced. Mass education, literacy and awareness campaigns must be launched in order to educate and sensitize the population. Finally, emergency response planning and capacity building, strengthening of the political and legal environment and effective and efficient reconstruction and rehabilitation works are particularly necessary. Nepalese disaster management models should be proactive, but they remain reactive. Such models are essential to minimize disaster risk; and with continued technological advancements and sound policies, Nepal has a lot to do on this front.