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Red Cross prepares for major disasters in Nepal

Woman outside her home

13 August 2012

The Red Cross has started a new programme helping people in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, become better prepared for disasters.

The Kathmandu Valley faces a significant risk of catastrophic earthquakes and its people also experience many other disasters on a frequent basis, including fire, flash floodings, disease epidemics, storm damage, water shortages and landslides. 

In February this year, the Nepal Red Cross began a three-year programme, with support from the British Red Cross and £4 million funding from the UK government’s Department for International Development (DFID), to address the risks of disasters.

Vulnerable to disaster

The Kathmandu Valley is a densely populated urban area. Poor quality construction and a lack of urban planning mean the majority of buildings are unsafe and likely to cause a high number of deaths in the event of an earthquake.

Local people have identified a need for practical skills and knowledge to deal with emergencies, particularly in how they can prepare for an earthquake or act in the immediate aftermath of one.

Although earthquakes have the most severe impact on the population, people living in the Kathmandu Valley are also concerned about a range of hazards affecting their communities, such as fire and flooding.

Red Cross support

Helen Brown, British Red Cross programme support manager, said: “Whatever the disaster, it is well recognised that local people are the first to respond before professional first responders – national or international – can reach the area.

“The Nepal Red Cross is working directly with the community to increase local people’s ability to respond when disasters strikes.

“We know from previous programmes that focusing on only one of the many threats a community faces, such as earthquakes, doesn’t maintain community engagement in the long term . Therefore we are taking a multi-hazard approach in our aim to reduce deaths in the event of a catastrophic disaster, by improving community and organisational preparedness and response for a range of disasters.”

Find out more about our work in Nepal

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