Kathmandu – IOM and Changu Narayan Municipality in Bhaktapur District in the Kathmandu Valley have begun work on a multi-purpose evacuation centre to accommodate displaced people in the event of a natural disaster. The initiative is part of an IOM project: People to People Support for Building Community Resilience through Recovery and Reconstruction in Nepal (P2P) funded by the Royal Thai Government.
In 2015 earthquakes in Nepal displaced approximately 2.8 million people. Some 117,700 people in the 14 worst affected districts were forced to find shelter in makeshift camps. The year before, heavy rains resulted in flooding across 35 of Nepal’s 77 districts. More than 190,000 houses were destroyed or partially damaged, displacing tens of thousands of people and leaving many homeless.
Thai Ambassador to Nepal Bhakavat Tanskul, IOM Chief of Mission Paul Norton and Changu Narayan Municipality Mayor Som Prasad Mishra attended the ground-breaking ceremony for the centre, which took place on Friday (14 December) at Helmet Danda, Bhaktapur. District officials and representatives of the Ministry of Urban Development, the Armed Forces and the community also took part.
Addressing the crowd, Ambassador Bhakavat said: “Today’s event is an auspicious moment for our two countries. It represents Thailand’s support to strengthen disaster risk reduction and empower Nepali people in (this) disaster-prone area… The funds for this project came from the Thai people under the Thai Heart for Nepal programme to help Nepal recover from the 2015 earthquake.”
“Post-earthquake reconstruction work in Nepal is an opportunity to incorporate risk reduction measures, while rebuilding damaged infrastructure to eliminate pre-existing vulnerabilities. We have to increase resilience to future hazards in this highly disaster-prone country,” said IOM Chief of Mission Paul Norton.
“This pre-designated, multi-hazard resistant community centre will be used to host displaced people, giving priority to the most vulnerable, including pregnant women, children, people with special needs and the elderly,” he added.
The centre will also serve as a venue for community activities, including women’s and youth groups, community-based training, recreational pursuits, adult literacy classes, information dissemination and income generating activities.
Following the 2015 earthquake, open spaces in the Kathmandu Valley previously identified by the authorities with support from IOM immediately became camp cities. Some surviving infrastructure such as schools and community buildings were also used for immediate shelter, medical and humanitarian assistance.
Changu Narayan Municipality Mayor Som Prasad Mishra said that the evacuation centre would be another stepping stone towards his municipality’s commitment to build a disaster-resilient community with better facilities. He thanked Thailand and IOM for their support for the municipality’s disaster preparedness, disaster risk reduction and resilience efforts.
IOM plans to build similar multi-purpose structures in seven other municipalities in earthquake affected districts – Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Gorkha, Dhading, Rasuwa, Sindhupalchowk and Dolakha. UNDP and other humanitarian agencies have agreed to provide water, sanitation and hygiene facilities.