Nepal: Earthquake Contingency Plan 2008

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Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) has passed through series of landmarks and challenges in its efforts to expand and grow into present structure since its inception. NRCS currently is the largest humanitarian organizations in Nepal. It has been tackling with multifarious humanitarian needs and challenges including various forms of disaster, epidemics, sociopolitical conflicts, poverty, health problems and multiple forms of sufferings through its wide spread network. NRCS has its presence in all 75 districts of the country in the form of district chapters and more than 1300 sub-chapters below district level. NRCS has demonstrated its tireless efforts in the years past in streamlining expanding and strengthening its organization and service activities throughout the country. NRCS has left no stones unturned in implementing its programs and activities as guided by its Plans and strategies to reduce vulnerability of individuals and communities through service delivery and promotion of humanitarian values. Furthermore, NRCS is deeply involved in Community development and resilience so that they may cope with all sorts of disasters and human sufferings locally.

NRCS has recently endorsed its Fifth Development Plan (2008-2010) as a continuous strategic effort to reduce or alleviate human suffering. In compliance with the RC fundamental principles and status of NRCS, the plan presents our due commitment and thereby shares responsibility of reducing vulnerability. Through the concepts and development plan approaches were adopted since mid-seventies, comprehensive development planning started since early eighties only in the form of first long term national development plan. Throughout these years NRCS has strongly adhered to its commitments and solidarity to International Red Cross Movement strategies so as to respond to global human suffering caused by natural, human or technological disaster.

Nepal is vulnerable to many types of natural and man made disasters causing serious hazards to human life and property. In the past, Nepal has experienced destructive earthquakes, flash floods, landslides, famines, drought, armed conflict etc. The total loss of life recorded between 1983 and 2000 by natural disasters has been 20,053. During destructive earthquakes and floods, NRCS headquarters, chapters and sub-chapters have been involved in providing health, education, and shelter support on a modest level. NRCS has been working in close coordination with the government as well as other humanitarian organizations. It has been taking different preparedness initiatives at organizational as well as community level by following its DM Policy, Disaster Relief Manual and the DM Plan. Further to secure the regular response, NRCS also have a separate corpus fund known as NRCS Princep Disaster relief Fund and Emergency Disaster Response Fund.

Considering above facts, Nepal Red Cross Society has undertaken disaster risk reduction and response program as a core program. Considering the possible disasters, mostly the probable earthquake in the Kathmandu valley, NRCS has prepared a Contingency Plan (CP) to respond to the disaster situation efficiently and effectively in the valley. Contingency Plan development process has been initiated since 2006 in cooperation with South Asia Regional Delegation of the IFRC. The concerned volunteers as well as staff engaged in entire process from the beginning of the process. The process was intensified to develop CP for major earthquake in the Kathmandu valley in 2007. The CP came into its final shape in 2008. The main thrust of the Contingency Plan is to enhance the NRCS capacities in emergency preparedness and response in Nepal so that they are better equipped and prepared to meet the needs of the most vulnerable affected by earthquake. This present contingency plan can be used to respond other kinds of disaster as well within and beyond Kathmandu valley. This plan is intended to provide response and relief if such disasters (earthquake and others) occur in the Kathmandu valley or beyond. Gradually it also intends to orient district chapters on the Contingency Plan module concept to district chapters. The CP is prepared in cooperation with and consultancy support from the IFRC, Nepal office as well as South Asia Regional Delegation, Delhi.

The Contingency Plan mainly consists of three parts: 1. Background and context, 2. Practical working guidelines (matrix format), and 3. Annexes. It also analyses NRCS existing capacities and resources, coordination mechanism, and continuation of the Contingency Plan itself. NRCS will also integrate the basic components of its CP in every disaster preparedness initiatives in future. Disaster Management Department will act as the focal unit for the CP. At the same, a focal person has also been identified for CP under the DM department to keep the document updated.

The part one; deals with objectives, scope, and limitations of the plan; describes the background and the geographical, social, economic, and policy framework within which it was developed; outlines briefly the scenario which the plan is intended to deal with giving estimates of the impact of the envisioned disaster and setting out basic planning assumptions governing the response; describes in form the RCRC resources and capacities available at the national, regional, and global level to respond to such a disaster; outlines the operational parameters governing the response; indicates how overall coordination of the response would be achieved; and outlines to maintain the contingency plan as an effective response tool.

The Practical Working Guide is a guide deals on the measures which are essential to be taken while preparing for a major earthquake in the Kathmandu Valley and the vital actions which must be implemented in the emergency phase of the response operation to be carried out by NRCS. In each instance the necessary actions are set out in a matrix system, covering the following areas:

- Coordination

- Continuity of operations

- Protection, safety, and security

- Information management, communications, and reporting

- Rescue, emergency medical assistance, and health services

- Relief

- Food and nutrition

- Shelter

- Water, sanitation, and hygiene

- Logistics and transport

- IT and telecommunications

- Finance and administration

Likewise, the Annexes contain (1) Documents and flow charts indicating lines of coordination and information transmission in an emergency, (2) Maps of Kathmandu Valley showing the resources of NRCS. (3) Contact details for key personnel in the NRCS (NHQ's).

Overall the Contingency Plan has been prepared considering the possible earthquake scenario in the Kathmandu valley which, if occurred, is supposed to claim a big loss of human life as well as loss of physical infrastructures. NRCS believes that this CP equally helps partners to foster a collective response in such a terrible scenario. NRCS will periodically update the Contingency Plan and will also carry out simulation exercises time and again to test the effectiveness of the document.

I sincerely appreciate all hard works and contributions made by NRCS's volunteers and staff to bring this document in this shape. I thank country office as well as SARD office of IFRC for their substantial support and cooperation in developing this document.

My special thanks naturally goes to Mr. Sanjeev Kumar Kafley, Director, Disaster Management Department and his team for their continuous efforts in order to bring the document in present shape.

Finally, I acknowledge and appreciate painstaking facilitation and sorts valuable contributions made by Mr John Humphreys (the consultant) for his facilitation to bring this Contingency Plan in this current form.

Dev Ratna Dhakhwa

Secretary General