Changing policy and practice
A major objective of the programme has been to demonstrate affordable, replicable and sustainable practices in disaster risk reduction which can be incorporated into government and NGOs policy and practice.
To this effect Practical Action has concentrated its efforts on influencing the behavior of district level government and the practices of actors at the VDC (Village Development Committee) level, the lowest level in the government administrative system.
It has also aimed to demonstrate the applicability and relevance of its technological solutions and ways of working both with and through communities.
Developing District Disaster Management Plans
In Nepal to date, priority has been given to post-emergency response, over pre-disaster planning and mitigation activities in governmental planning.
During 2007 Practical Action finalized the development of the first disaster management plan in Nepal to emphasize pre-disaster planning and make a commitment to investment in mitigation and preparedness activities. While previously the plan in Chitwan had simply described the nature of the problems faced and broadly highlighted who might act to address them once they occurred, the district now owns a plan which details responsibilities before, during and after disasters strike, with an increased commitment to pre-disaster investment.
The plan was developed by the district authorities themselves, with Practical Action facilitating the process, gathering background information and ensuring that other key stake holders, such as the UN, were informed and involved at all stages of its development.
Before the plan was completed its key components were shared and confirmed by community representatives from VDCs throughout the area, to ensure that it fairly and accurately represented the threats, risks, vulnerabilities and capacities of the district.
It is worth mentioning that the plans is in Nepali for the first time, the previous plan being in English only, allowing district level staff and community members alike to make practical use of it.
Developing VDC (Village Development Committee) level disaster management plans
In all the communities in which Practical Action has been working, VDC level disaster management plans have been developed, much along the lines of those developed at the district level.
This process began with initial mapping of risks and hazards during CBDM (Community Based Disaster Management) planning and continued to the point where plans, responsibilities, actions and future priorities were committed to paper. These plans were deemed to be of sufficiently high standard as to be incorporated as annexes to the District Disaster Management Plan, both as officially endorsed action plans in themselves and as examples to be copied by other communities in the future.
Ensuring Best Practice in Humanitarian Response
While Practical Actions programme has been aimed at pre-emergency planning, without ensuring similarly high standards in post-disaster response these plans would likely result in little. As such Practical Action contributed to the translation, for the first time, of the SPHERE humanitarian standards manual into Nepali.
With this now provided and available to all actors, governmental and NGO, involved in the humanitarian field, increasingly high standards of emergency response should be expected to the benefit of those communities affected.
Encouraging the government to invest in DRR (Disaster Risk Reduction)
Policy counts for little if it is not turned into practice. In Chitwan, through its partner SAHAMATI, Practical Action was able to influence the roads Department and the District Authorities to invest in major flood protection work on the Lothar river around Piple, one of the biggest ever investments in DRR (Disaster Risk Reduction) in the area.
Elsewhere funds have been explicitly set aside for DRR work at the VDC level, where previously such funds had only been allocated for post-disaster response. This is the first time funds have been specifically earmarked fro DRR activities
These are major achievements in turning policy into practice.