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Nepal: Building A More Resilient Nation

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UNISDR: Nepal set to embark on an aggressive reconstruction plan

The United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) recently reported that the nation of Nepal, impacted by a major earthquake in April of 2015, is ready to embark on an aggressive reconstruction plan, thanks to new policies and regulations finally in place within the nation's legislature.

Devastation in Nepal

On April 25, 2015, a magnitude-7.8 earthquake struck Nepal, leaving in its wake an avalanche on Mount Everest, thousands of deaths, and massive destruction. Just two weeks later, another magnitude-7.3 quake rocked the nation, followed by at least six aftershocks that were recorded at a 5.0 magnitude or higher. The second earthquake triggered landslides and crumbled already unstable buildings, many of which were not built to any seismic code standards.

A year later, most victims, nearly 3 million of the nation's most vulnerable people, are still living in makeshift and temporary shelters because support for reconstruction has been slow, at least until now.

A Reason for Hope

New policies and regulations that were completely absent when the earthquake hit, have now been made a part of the nation's legislation regarding reconstruction in a seismic zone. Under the new regulations, the program is slated to build more than 500,000 low-cost, and maybe more importantly, earthquake-resistant homes, helping Nepal become more resilient in the face of natural hazards.

The goal of the new National Reconstruction Authority is to ensure that homeowners are able to rebuild their homes abiding by the new national reconstruction standards while using local materials and specially trained masons.

The head of the Nepal Society for Earthquake Technology (NSET), Amod Dixit, discussed how NSET has been working for years to prove that such a system can work and that proof occurred when 350 schools retrofitted to NSET standards survived both earthquakes. In contrast, 25,000 other schools and classrooms throughout the afflicted area collapsed or sustained damages during the earthquakes.

There is a shortage of properly trained masons required for the reconstruction, but Dixit indicated that the government has adopted a national training curriculum developed by NSET.

Efforts Support Sendai Agreement

According to Dixit, efforts also support the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, which was adopted in March of 2015 and seeks to help nations reduce disaster losses. The new regulations accomplish this by focusing on "rebuilding the fabric of society and restoring livelihoods in the earthquake zone which is now dotted with temporary shelters and temporary learning centers."

Kimberly Arsenault Kimberly Arsenault serves as an intern at the Cleveland/Bradley County Emergency Management Agency where she works on plan revisions and special projects. Previously, Kimberly spent 15 years in commercial and business aviation. Her positions included station manager at the former Midwest Express Airlines, as well as corporate flight attendant, inflight manager, and charter flight coordinator. Kimberly currently holds a master's degree in emergency and disaster management from American Public University.