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Editorial: Prepare for monsoon emergencies

Editorial: Prepare for monsoon emergencies

The Department of Hydrology and Meteorology has predicted the possibility of heavy rainfall in the South Asian region, including Nepal, this monsoon. According to the department, Kaski, Syangja, Lamjung and southern parts of Manang and Mustang are likely to receive heavy rains this year.

Heavy rainfall has also been forecast for the eastern and northern regions of Gulmi, and the western and northern regions of Gorkha. Furthermore, Saptari, major parts of Siraha, southern regions of Dhanusha, Sarlahi, and Mahottari, the western region of Sunsari, and the southern region of Udayapur are also expected to experience heavy monsoon rains.

However, it seems the government has not made adequate preparations to tackle potential monsoon hazards. As temperatures rise and air becomes warmer, we are witnessing more intense downpours, increasing the risks of floods and landslides. In recent years, Nepal has witnessed two major flood events—the Melamchi flood and the Kagbeni, Mustang flood—caused by heavy rainfall over a short period.

The government should make necessary preparations to address climate-related hazards. There is a designated agency, the National Disaster Risk Reduction Management Authority (NDRRMA) under the Ministry of Home Affairs, responsible for addressing natural disasters. However, it has yet to formulate concrete plans to mitigate risks even though monsoon is at our doorsteps. According to NDRRMA, floods have claimed 876 lives, with an additional 563 reported missing and 209 injured over the past 12 years. At the same time, landslides have resulted in 1,483 fatalities, with 347 people still missing and 1,224 others injured. The monetary damage caused by monsoon disasters over the past 12 years is estimated at
Rs 20bn.   

Despite such an alarming scenario, the government of Nepal seems least bothered about making adequate preparations for mitigating risks. There is a lack of coordination among the state's security agencies, such as the Nepali Army, Nepal Police and the Armed Police Force. Additionally, there is no proper mechanism for effective coordination among the federal, provincial and local governments. Without further ado, the government should prioritize preparations to safeguard people's lives and properties from monsoon hazards.