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19 Oct 2015 | News

ICIMOD Proposed to Host Web-based Hazard Platform

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In Nepal, landslides are one of the most common natural hazards, causing serious economic damage and affecting thousands of vulnerable people every year. The number of landslides can be as many as 12,000 in a year, killing approximately 200 people and causing an estimated economic loss of 700 million rupees per year. The April 2015 earthquake, the proceeding aftershocks, and monsoon rainfall have exacerbated the occurrence of landslides in mountainous terrain of Nepal, which is naturally prone to landslides. Although several governmental and non-governmental agencies have been working on landslide hazard risk assessment and hazard mitigation, a coordinated effort between these different agencies is still needed. One of the key challenges has been the lack of a harmonized methodology regarding national landslide inventorying and hazard assessment, vulnerability, and risk mapping.

On 28 and 29 September 2015, ICIMOD’s Koshi Basin Programme, which is supported by the Australian Government through the Sustainable Development Investment Portfolio for South Asia (SDIP), hosted a workshop in partnership with Department of Soil Conservation and Watershed Management (DSCWM),Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation, Nepal for key stakeholders and experts working on landslides. The workshop was also supported by UNEP, FAO, IUCN, UNDP and WWF Nepal. The goals of the workshop were to present up-to-date information and various approaches to landslide inventory, hazard mapping, risk assessment, restoration measures, and ecosystem-based mitigation strategies, and to create a platform for data sharing and collaboration. Representatives from the DSCWM, the principal authority mandated with conducting soil conservation and watershed management in Nepal, chaired several of the sessions. Nearly 100 participants from government agencies such as the Department of Water Induced Disaster Prevention (DWIDP), the Department of Roads (DOR), theDepartment of Mines and Geology (DMG), the Department of Meterology and Hydrology, Tribhuvan University, University of Twente, the British Geological Society, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) also participated in the workshop.

One of the most significant developments to come out of the workshop was an agreement among the various agencies to build an integrative, web-based platform, hosted by ICIMOD, which would act as a national landslide inventory. The platform would promote harmonized methods for data collection and storing, and could be linked with a public reporting system for landslides, using both social media as well as a targeted reporting system for schools and the news media. The participants identified the need for improved application of remote sensing and geospatial tools in creating multiscale inventory and hazard mapping. They also noted that a bottom-up approach to hazard assessment is needed to focus on livelihoods, people at risk, and reconstruction safety.

On landslide treatment and mitigation, there was a consensus that such work should be coordinated across government bodies horizontally and vertically, focusing on appropriate land use planning. In a resolution produced at the conclusion of the workshop, participants recommended that best practices on landslide treatment and mitigation needs to be shared, and new technology needs to be researched for local applicability.

Lastly, the workshop participants proposed establishing a multidisciplinary working group with sub-groups on landslide inventory, landslide hazard assessment, landslide treatment and mitigation, and capacity building. The terms of reference for the working group is expected to be completed by mid-November. The workshop created national and international linkages to develop a knowledge base that would improve decision making. The organizers and participants were both committed to contribute to this initiative to ultimately reduce the impacts of landslides on the lives and livelihoods of people across Nepal.

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