ICIMOD Celebrates the International Day for Disaster Reduction

Activities in Nepal

“Although women and girls have less access to disaster preparedness tools, know-how, and information owing to existing power structures, they are essentially forces for good that need to be enhanced,” said Dr Mandira Shrestha, Water Resources Specialist at ICIMOD, speaking at the National Symposium on International Day for Disaster Reduction 2012 in Kathmandu, Nepal, on 12 October. The event reflected this year’s theme, ‘Women and Girls, the [In]visible Force of Resilience’, which highlighted the need for women and girls to be at the forefront of reducing risk and managing the world’s natural hazards.

“The status quo is unfortunate given that women and girls are 14 times more likely than men to die from disasters. Owing to male migration, their workloads and responsibilities have increased significantly but not their decision-making powers,” she added, underscoring the need to integrate gender in all aspects and at all levels of the disaster management cycle during her speech on the gender aspects of the information systems that have been developed by ICIMOD in collaboration with the World Meteorological Organization and country partners in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, and Pakistan for flood risk management in the Hindu Kush Himalayan region. Dr Shrestha also called for greater regional cooperation for flood risk management due to the transboundary nature of many types of flood.

Also during the event, which was co-sponsored by ICIMOD, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bijay Kumar Gachchadar launched the Nepal Disaster Report 2011, stating that, “disasters in Nepal reinforce, perpetuate, and increase gender inequality, making already bad situations worse for women and girls”. He acknowledged that “women and girls are among the most active in creating resilience and protecting their communities”. 

High-level representatives from national and international NGOs presented on the gender dimensions of disaster risk reduction from their institutional perspectives. ICIMOD publications on disaster risk reduction were also on display during the event, which attracted over 200 participants.

Activities in Bhutan

With support from ICIMOD through the HKH-HYCOS project, the Department of Hydro-Met Services of Bhutan co-organized an IDDR event for some 850 school students in Tsirang Dzonkhag, Bhutan on 13 October. The event raised awareness, especially among school children and vulnerable groups, through presentations on disaster risk reduction with a focus on the unique vulnerabilities and strengths of women and girls, a poster presentation and exhibition on hydro-met services of Bhutan, and a field trip to Damphu Class A meteorological station, among other things.