Much awaited Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act is endorsed

Wednesday 18 October 2017

2017 flood in Saptari inundated this village of Daluwa in Saptari district

With unpredicted earthquakes, frequent flooding, manifold landslides and multiple hazards and disasters striking every year, Nepal is one of the most disaster-prone countries in South Asia. In a country which is so prone to recurring disasters, Nepal had the Natural Calamity Relief Act of 1982. However, it did not cover the broader spectrum of hazard mitigation and disaster risk management or the categorization of the diversified disasters Nepal faces which require different attention. Against this backdrop, there had been a strong consensus among development and humanitarian partners alike, that the country required a new Disaster Management Act that incorporated the whole spectrum of disaster cycle management and the diversity of disasters. 

Work on the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Act endorsed by parliament in September this year actually started more than a decade ago. The DRRM Act will now become a key instrument to guide any disaster risk response, risk reduction, preparedness and management interventions in an event of a disaster in the country. This Act replaces the Natural Calamity Relief Act of 1982.

Recent discourses on disasters of the past and the recent 2015 Gorkha Earthquake of Nepal have all brought about a shift in attitude on part of the planners, government officials, donor agencies and civil society. The calls were unanimous from all quarters for the need of a coordinated disaster preparedness and response mechanism. As a humanitarian donor, the European Commission-Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO) has always been pushing for evidence-based advocacy with special interest in Disaster Management among ECHO Consortia partners.

ECHO’s support to Save the Children lead consortium partner Mission East to execute an advocacy push for Disaster Management (DM) in the interest of the larger population could be seen as a contributing factor for the new act. The "Promoting Inclusive Community Based Disaster Preparedness Project" was a flagship that gave the final push for the decade long initiative to make the new act a reality.  Save the Children had been on the forefront to develop a joint advocacy campaign involving all ECHO and Association of INGOs in Nepal (AIN) partners to expedite the decade old process of the endorsement of the DM Act. The project involved tapping into the national media influence to bring political commitment, summarizing views of senior government officials and parliamentarians.

The credit for the replacement of the 1982 Relief Act with Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Act rests with all stakeholders. But the final push in the marathon was vested on the 34 television episodes revolving around the themes of post-disaster reconstruction and government accountability for Disaster Management.  The support from ECHO in the Inclusive Community Based Disaster Preparedness Project with a media engagement angle is something the public is aware of. These weekly broadcasts have dug deep into the minds of the political class and thus the country has the DRRM Bill endorsed today after years of repeated hits and misses.