Yubaraj Kandel

Mr. Kadel has been working in the field of environment and development for two decades. Currently, he is a Ph.D. Scholar at LBU.

There were 1808 incidents of disasters across the country from April 14 to mid-September. As a result of these incidents, 239 people lost their lives, 42411 families were affected and more than one billion rupees of the property was damaged. Although there were no major floods in the Terai this year, there was heavy damage in the hilly areas. The monsoon is not over yet. Due to the long rains, the mountains have cracked and the flow of the river has not stopped. After such incidents that happen every year, we can see and hear the compassionate stories of those who have lost their homes, lost their property and become destitute, and have become squatters and built huts in rivers and forests. Poverty and disaster are linked worldwide. Where there is a lot of poverty, there are many disasters, many poor people are affected after the disaster, and some of the activities of the poor invite disaster, so disaster and poverty seem to come together.

Disaster in poverty

According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR), 87 percent of natural disasters since 1998 have occurred in low-income countries. Only 13 percent of the total economic losses from disasters have occurred in poor countries. Of the 130 people per million population in the world who die from disasters, this number is only 18 per million in rich countries. Analyzing the disasters of the last 10 years in Nepal, the number of deaths due to disasters in Kathmandu district is 39 per million population while in Bajura district, which is the poorest in Nepal, the number is 200. In the earthquake of 2072 BS, 1 million 72 thousand houses were damaged out of which 58 percent houses were mud bonded/ wooden pillars (Ministry of Home Affairs 2073) and those houses belonged to poor or middle-class families.

According to the Poverty Small Scale Estimates 2011, there are 42 districts with a higher poverty rate than the national average, out of which 28 districts are only in Narayani West. According to the Poverty Small Scale Estimates 2011, more than one-third of the total population of the district is below the poverty line. Out of 22 districts, 18 districts are in the west. These districts include Bajura (64 percent), Calicut (58 percent), Bajhang (57 percent), Humla (56 percent), Darchula (53 percent), Jumla (49 percent), Bajhang, Mugu, Doti, Baitadi, Dadeldhura, Dolpa, Mustang. Dailekh, Manang, Jajarkot, Kapilvastu, Kailali. Similarly, according to the climate change risk map prepared by the Ministry of Environment, Narayani West has 2 out of 9 districts at high risk, 7 out of 17 districts at risk, and 18 out of 28 districts at medium risk. The poor in these districts are less able to manage organized and secure housing. So they are forced to settle in flood, landslide, and inundated areas in search of cheap and free land. Due to these reasons, floods and landslides have affected the poorer settlements more. Due to the inability to build safe and environment-friendly housing, the poor have to bear more losses due to heavy rains, strong winds, cold waves, and fires. Disasters such as floods and landslides damaged land productivity, water resources, irrigation systems, and livestock. The poor are the most affected. Poor group members are more likely to lose their jobs due to the outbreak. The worst affected group is poor.

Poverty drives Disaster

Those who are not able to use natural resources are becoming poorer and the poor continue to be accused of putting nature at greater risk. The World Commission on Environment and Development's 1989 report, Our Common Future, and the United Nations Environment Program's Geo 2000 report identified poverty as a major factor in environmental degradation. Although this concept has been criticized in recent times, the poor are increasingly involved in disaster relief due to their compulsion to use the minimum amount of natural resources to survive. Many slum/squatter settlements are still on the banks of the river. With few exceptions, those who settle and farm in riverbank; belong to poor families. Due to lack of land, the poor must do mining and farming in risky places. By pushing the poor, the rich are exploiting riverine resources, mines, and forests. Such activities directly or indirectly invite floods and landslides. The poor and the unemployed are more involved in forest fires for better grass and firewood, killing animals, and clearing bushes. This is playing an important role in increasing the incidence of forest fires.

Disaster makes poverty

According to the World Bank, every year huge amount of loss is reported in the world due to natural disasters, which cost 520 billion US dollars. And, adding 26 million poor people each year. Nepal is at high risk of natural disasters, and disasters are repeatedly occurring every year, which oppressed the poor people so that they can never uplift from poverty. Labor and agriculture are the means of subsistence for the majority of the poor in Nepal. Both these areas are more affected by the disaster. Due to floods, landslides, droughts, not being able to cultivate crops, not being able to grow crops, not being able to provide livestock and food, and not being able to get economic benefits by reaching the market even after production, a significant number people engaged in agriculture are pushing towards poverty. Although some of the relief provided by the government after the disaster is enough to feed 2/4 of the people, the poor are forced to take loans to escape from the disaster immediately. Which will never allow them to rise above the vicious cycle of poverty.

Nepalese affected by natural disasters have been affected by corona for the last 20 months. Corona, which has emerged globally, has crippled Nepal's economy. Due to this disaster, millions of Nepalese have lost their jobs at home and abroad and the burden of debt is increasing in their families. With the destruction of the transport, hotel, and tourism sectors, it has become a problem for many poor people to fulfill their basic needs. While the Corona devastation continues, floods and landslides have plagued the country this year. Until last year, the country's economic and social situation had improved, leading to a sharp decline in poverty. The Fifteenth Plan aimed to reduce it to 11 percent. But due to the current Corona pandemic and natural disasters, not only will this goal of reducing poverty not be achieved, but the number of disaster-driven poor will increase surely.

Nepal is at high risk of a variety of natural disasters due to weak geological and geological topography, climatic inequality, and climate change, recurrence of multiple disasters, unmanaged and risk-averse development work. Disasters that recur every year are adversely affecting Nepal's physical, economic and social development. Relief and reconstruction work is done in Nepal after a disaster, but there is no search for alternatives to prepare for the disaster and prevent post-disaster poverty. Poverty-disaster-poverty is revolving in Nepal. Therefore, poverty issues should be included in disaster management plans and programs. Poverty reduction, local employment, and disaster risk reduction programs should be integrated to prevent disaster-prone activities due to poverty and to prevent post-disaster poverty.

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