Nepal is a high-risk country for natural hazards including earthquakes, floods, landslides, fires and drought. The hazards with the greatest humanitarian impact are earthquakes and floods. Nepal is categorized into three geographical and ecological zones: Terai, hill and mountain areas. The middle hills and higher mountains are highly susceptible to secondary earthquake effects, such as landslides, which can be exacerbated by excessive erosion of hill slopes and rock falls as well as heavy rainfall. The most recent high-impact earthquake in 2015 affected all 37 of 77 districts, 14 of them severely, in the hill and mountain areas. It caused almost 9,000 deaths and displaced approximately 100,000 people.
Accurate earthquake prediction is currently impossible. Preparedness actions therefore need to plan for all possible eventualities, rather than a single specific scenario. In must be a regular exercise to ensure the tools of prioritization and planning remain up-to-date and relevant.
Reflections on lessons from past responses highlight coordination in general and prepositioning of supplies as the most successful components of however, identified pre-disaster coordination well in advance of natural hazards as critical to improving response efforts. In particular, early development of relevant emergency response and preparedness (ERP) plans, including identification of resource availability, was noted by responders as useful in enhancing preparedness in a sudden onset emergency. In addition, the importance of coordination mechanisms at the provincial level to avoid duplication and enhancing coordination among the three levels of government.
In 2020 the Provincial Focal Point Agency system has been reinvigorated during the COVID19 response. This mechanism has been effective in extending coherent and coordinated support to provincial and local governments. In addition, many provincial, and some local level, cluster mechanisms were stood up. The pandemic response has paved the road for enhancing coordination at the provincial level, and this ERP will seek to build on that foundation and continue to enhance the localization of emergency response and preparedness planning.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also added complexity to emergency response planning, as response activities and planning must be modified to ensure travel and movement restrictions are accommodated in planning to rapidly reach people in needs, and that appropriate space is provided in distribution planning to maintaining physical distancing measures. This is particularly relevant in shelter and camp management response activities. There is also an added duty of care for humanitarian workers, which means adequate provision of protective equipment and information, including for all service providers and frontline workers, must be planned for, in addition to regular stockpiles of traditional humanitarian commodities. These provisions will add time and coordination effort to all response efforts, which must be taken into account.