Review

Earthquake safety is Everybody’s concern

May 22, 2015 |

The 17th annual national earthquake safety day was marked around Nepal with all of the country’s 75 districts organising awareness and memorial meetings on January 16.

“An earthquake may strike at any time, be ready and prepared every time.” This was the slogan with which the 17th annual national earthquake safety day was celebrated around Nepal on January 16 this year. A day set apart to highlight the importance of raising awareness on and sharing information and experiences regarding disaster and earthquake risk reduction, earthquake safety day is celebrated annually on the second day of the Nepali month of Magh (which can fall either on January 15 or 16).

Awareness is seen as a key factor in reducing risk, and it is in the spirit of spreading word on earthquake safety that the day has been celebrated each year since 1999, commemorating the many lives lost in the 1934 earthquake. Nepal’s earthquake safety day celebrations are not limited to the one day but extend for up to a week or more and cities, towns and villages all over the country participate in awareness campaigns and rallies.

One of the key programmes this year was the national symposium discourse titled “Experiences in Earthquake Risk Reduction and Response”. The national symposium is held annually a few days before the earthquake day.

This year, the symposium took place on January 12 at the Hotel Himalaya in Kupondole, and was attended by 185 participants representing the government, municipalities,

INGOs, NGOs, academic institutions, hospitals, the army, police, the media as well as community members. Suresh Prakash Acharya, joint secretary at the Ministry of Urban Development was the chief guest. The programme reviewed efforts made in earthquake risk reduction and response in the past year and consolidated ideas that propose the way forward for the new one.

A panel discussion on comprehensive school safety also took place, emphasising on safer construction of school building and the need of raising awareness on earthquake safety through the educational system itself.

It was concluded that experiences in earthquake risk reduction and response need to be shared and new ideas on the same generated so that all stakeholders– policymakers, decision makers, central and local government authorities and professionals–can act efficiently.

Another key event, the “I Cycle for Earthquake Safety” cycle rally in Kathmandu, saw the participation of over 400 cyclists as they made their way from Mangal Bazaar in Lalitpur to Kumbheshwor, Sankhamul, UN Park, Bijuli Bazar, MaitiGhar, Singha Durbar, Shahid Gate, New Road, Bhugol Park, Jhochhen, Lagan Tole, Teku, Sanepa, Jhamsikhel, Pulchowk, Jawalakhel, Kumaripati, back to the starting point, covering a total distance of around 12 kilometres on January 16. An “Earthquake Vulnerability Walk” had taken place earlier, on January 14, in which 50 people participated.

An earthquake memorial meeting also took place on January 16 beside the historic earthquake monument at Bhugol Park, New Road in memory of those who lost their lives in the 1934, 1988 and 2011 earthquakes.

The city of Kirtipur, meanwhile, organised an Earthquake Safety Rally that travelled from Panga Dobato to Sundar Bazar, Krishna Cinema Hall, Chikhu, Nagaun, Nagaun Dobato, Nayabazar, Loktantrik Chowk and fi nally gathered at the Kirtipur Football Ground for the National Earthquake Safety Day Meeting. The deputy prime minister, Bamdev Gautam, led the meeting. In his speech, Gautam emphasised on the fact that Nepal is one of the world’s most earthquake-prone countries, and stressed on the urgency of enhancing preparedness

at the personal, family and community levels. There was also an earthquake safety exhibition–jointly organised by the Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC), Nepal Red Cross Society, OXFAM, USAID and NSET at–the Kirtipur Sports ground that included displays on and information regarding safer

construction techniques and technologies and disseminated knowledge on earthquake safety.One of the featured stalls included a full scale demonstration “shake table” that showed the contrast between structures that have been built with earthquakeresistant elements that those that haven’t. A street drama on earthquake safety, “Hami Banchyaun” by the Dabali Natya Samuha was also staged at the venue.

A nationwide earthquake safety drill was also conducted with a special siren being aired from Radio Nepal and other FM station across the country at exactly 2:24 pm in the afternoon (the hour at which the great earthquake of 1934 had struck).

Earthquake safety day activities outside the Kathmandu Valley included various awareness and memorial meetings organised as per the instructions of the Ministry of Home Affairs in all 75 districts of the country. Achham, Janakpur, Bharatpur, Biratnagar, Dhangadhi, Birtamod, Rajbiraj, Dailekh and Lamjung were amongst those areas that marked earthquake safety day with numerous programmes, rallies, exhibitions and meetings

One of the key programmes this year was the national symposium discourse. Titled “Experiences in Earthquake Risk Reduction and Response”, the event reviewed efforts made in earthquake risk reduction and response in the past year and consolidated ideas that propose the way forward for the new one

 


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