Though PFRR Project is housed inside the NRA premises, it functions as an independent entity with the support of its own Operational Framework, which is presently in the process of getting GoN endorsement. On the other hand, the Project continues to coordinate with NRA on major strategic and relevant issues on a regular basis.
By Dr. Suman Kumar Karna
The heavy rainfall from 11 to 14 August 2017 resulted in a widespread flooding across 35 of the country’s 76 districts, killing 165 people and affecting about 1.7 million people. Out of 35 districts, 18 have been severely affected. The massive floods caused rampant damages to infrastructures and displaced tens of thousands of people in the Terairegion.
Several districts recorded the heaviest rainfall in the last 60 years while over 80 percent of land in the Southern Terai region was inundated.
Though the occurrence of floods in the Terai region is not a new phenomenon, the impact of the 2017 floods was devastating that not only claimed many lives, but also severely damaged infrastructures and displaced tens of thousands of people. The situation clearly indicated that the ‘business as usual’ approach would not be enough to address the damages and losses.
Realizing this fact, the National Planning Commission (NPC), under its own leadership, took the initiative and conducted a Post Flood Recovery Needs Assessment (PFRNA) with support from the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and the World Bank. The Needs Assessment report clearly outlined the overall recovery and reconstruction needs of approximately USD 700 million, spread over nine sectors and 18 hard-hit districts of Terai region and within the time frame of three years.
The recent discourse in disaster risk management clearly emphasizes the need of catering the medium and small scale disasters, which are more frequent and cause even more damages and destructions when collectively analyzed and estimated. Besides, the findings and results of the PFRNA report also raised concerns of relevant authorities and development partners of this field. As a result, the Government of Nepal took pro-active decision and established a fully dedicated and largely independent Post Flood Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Project, to address the overall recovery and reconstruction needs.
Though PFRR Project is housed inside the NRA premises, it functions as an independent entity with the support of its own Operational Framework, which is presently in the process of getting GoN endorsement. On the other hand, the Project continues to coordinate with NRA on major strategic and relevant issues on a regular basis. The Project is primarily responsible for planning, coordination, implementation and monitoring of the entire activities focused towardspost-flood reconstruction and rehabilitation needs of the affected districts.
The task entrusted to PFRR Project is quite challenging, particularly after the successful conclusion of the elections of the governments at three levels – federal, provincial and local – and when the new government has just begun to work. In this situation, the support of provincial and local governments, international agencies and development partners is of paramount importance in order to better deal with this transition and therefore implement the recostruction projects as envisioned. Both the provincial and local governments in the Terai region need to own and champion this Project and do necessary advocacy and lobbying for its smooth planning and implementation of necessary activities in the field.
This Project emulates a more broader and holistic view of recovery approach, whereby, a separate chapter on Resilience Framework, presented in the Needs Assessment report, reiterates the priority on making the proposed recovery and reconstruction programcomprehensive, robust and resilient. The principles of community empowerment, inclusive development, disaster risk reduction, safer construction, risk transfer, preparedness and emergency warning system will remain central to the Project. A simplified version of project structure is found to implement the planned activities in the field. The Project Implementation Unit will support the project at the central level while the Provincial Offices will help the local governments to implement the project activities in the field.
The present phase of transition has apparent impact on progress of work in many domains and the PFRR Project is no different. However, looking at the urgent nature of our support, the Project is continuously engaged in doing many background activities which will ultimately aid to the full scale recovery and reconstruction program in the field. Some of them are: development of Operational Framework; interaction in the field with active support of District Disaster Management Committee and local governments; distribution of early recovery packages; meeting with donors, development partners and other stakeholders; preparation of recovery plan; proposal preparation for capacity building of provincial and local governments and local communities; house sample design and revision of mason training manual; website development; compilation of beneficiary list and others.
As revealed by the recent publications in Nepal, the Terai region is generally found backward on different fronts like; poverty and development index, per-capita income, school drop-outs, unemployment rate and other human development indicators and so on. Terai, therefore,needs special attention and support in order to better manage the growing expectations and aspirations of their people. Both provincial and local governments need to be strengthened and empowered to take lead and play an effective role in the rapid and sustainable development of this region. The PFRR Project provides a good platform and will ensure that the development of this region is risk sensitive, disaster-friendly and also resilient to external vulnerabilities.
The PFRR Project in Terai is reasonable in size and manageable in scale. The results, therefore, will be more impactful, visible and guaranted. Along with the lessons learned from the Gorkha Earthquake recovery programme, the projectteam would also like to benefit from the good examples and best practices of this field from around the region and from the world. The donors, development partners, private sectors and civil societies are, therefore, encouraged to extend their generous support and guidance to this program and people of the region.
Dr. Karnais Chief of Post Flood Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Project at NRA. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org