Following the 7.8 magnitude earthquake of April 25, 2015, Government of Nepal has been posed with one of its biggest disaster related challenge in recent history. While the Government showed agility in rescue operations, it is yet to form a comprehensive strategy on reconstruction and rebuilding Nepal. For a mechanism that was already facing inter-agency coordination problems during the best of times, the Government of Nepal has been struggling in the aftermath of the disaster that struck Nepal. At the same time, there are many groups led by individuals, civil society organizations, and political parties that have begun their relief and reconstruction efforts in the affected areas. Government of Nepal has been consulting several experts to create a comprehensive strategy for reconstruction. However, it will be a daunting task for any agency (let alone one which carries with it expectations of all the public) to bring together all these efforts under one umbrella. In order to help the Government of Nepal, it is important to create several platforms that bring together multiple ideas for rebuilding Nepal and present a coherent strategy. ‘Ideas for Rebuilding Nepal’ is one among many such efforts.
‘Ideas for Rebuilding Nepal’ has been envisioned as a two-day conference that brings together political and civil society actors along with experts and deliberate ideas on two broader themes – ‘Designing an effective institutional mechanism for disaster preparedness and management’ and ‘reviving the economy and financing rebuilding efforts’.
The conference will have the following major objectives:
- To bring together actors of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), community based organizations (CBOs), private sector and political community that are already working on the ground in relief and reconstruction efforts on one platform to share their respective ideas on how to rebuild Nepal after the earthquake.
- To initiate a discourse on reconstruction and rebuilding Nepal that is responsive to community and people’s demand.
- To develop a comprehensive report that documents the deliberations of the two days on various ideas and alternatives on rebuilding Nepal that might be feasible for Nepal
The conference will produce the following outcomes:
- A strategy paper on institutional mechanism required for disaster preparedness and management.
- A strategy paper on economic revival, financing reconstruction and promoting economic growth in the post disaster situation.
The post disaster situation of Nepal has presented innumerous challenges. The fact that we live in an earthquake prone area geologically requires new kind of thinking in the way we live and conduct our social and economic activities. This eventually influences the socio-economic and political structure of Nepal. Therefore, the following themes outline the major challenges in the reconstruction and rebuilding efforts and encompass subthemes of discussion for the conference:
Institutional mechanisms for disaster preparedness and management
The most important priority for Nepal as a nation is to save lives. Earthquakes by themselves may not claim lives but the number of lives that we lose is directly associated with our preparedness and response strategy. The April 25 earthquake has exposed gaping holes in our preparedness and response strategy. At the same time, unaccounted help by communities and voluntary efforts saved many more. Therefore, Nepal can have a unique preparedness strategy that centers around community and mobilizing voluntary efforts. Sessions designed around this theme are:
- Disaster Response planning and execution (Standard Operating Procedures)
- Disaster rescue operations (Increasing institutional capacity)
- Community participation, targeting vulnerable groups and mapping vulnerable areas
- Managing public services (Health, education, government services)
- Managing public infrastructure (road, airport, electricity, drinking water, communications)
- Land use policy and housing (both rural and urban)
Reviving the Economy, financing reconstruction and promoting growth
While ensuring human security and human development is of utmost importance, both these aspects require financing which clearly is based on having a robust economy that can support the expenses to be made for disaster preparedness and response. Similarly, events such as the recent earthquake can be turned into opportunities for reform (as it was done in Gujarat, India). Therefore, another important theme that needs a simultaneous discourse and strategies is on financing reconstruction, reviving the economy and promoting growth. The fiscal and monetary decisions taken as a response to a situation of post-disaster have economic repercussions. Sessions designed around this theme are:
- Financing institutional mechanism
- Financing reconstruction and rehabilitation (fiscal and monetary policy)
- Economic Revival: Agriculture, trade, MSMEs
- Economic Revival: Tourism
- Immediate economic reforms to increase private investment
The conference will be hosted by Nepal Leaders Circle (NLC). NLC is an informal group of reform minded politicians, parliamentarians and business community members who have been deliberating on policy reform required in Nepal for the past three years. It comprises of 15 core group members who meet every month. The discussion and the meeting of NLC is facilitated by Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation. Samriddhi, The Prosperity Foundation is joining the conference in the capacity of a knowledge partner. The event will be managed by Lead International Private Limited.
The first day of the conference will center around the theme of ‘Institutional mechanism for disaster preparedness and management’ while the second day will center around the theme of ‘Economic revival, growth and financing reconstruction’. The tentative schedule of the program is found here.
Conference Venue: Nepal Administrative Staff College, Jawlakhel
Update from Day I: Inaugural Video Snapshot