Kushal Basnet

Kushal recently completed Grade XII from Golden Gate International College, Kathmandu.

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Published On: September 16, 2017 10:19 AM NPT By: Kushal Basnet

Painful Aftermath

Painful Aftermath

The World Bank predicted the economic growth rate of Nepal to be the world’s third highest at 7.5 percent this year, hopeful of the timely monsoon, which was indeed timely. However, incessant downpour resulted in massive floods in the southern plains. 

Another disaster at a time when the country is already trying to rise from the damages of the 2015 earthquake has hit the national economy hard.

According to the Ministry of Home affairs, 131 died, 30 were injured and 32 are missing in the tarai floods. But the damage is not limited to physical destruction. The long term effects in the lives of people in flood affected areas as well as the whole nation are still behind the curtains. The floods carried a range of consequences including economic, social, psychological, ecological and environmental damages interlinked with each other. 

A preliminary report by the Ministry of Agricultural Development says that there has been a loss of about Rs 8.11 billion to the agricultural sectors as standing crops, food grains and fisheries were damaged. Also, serious damages to the major irrigation systems have been recorded. This is going to seriously affect the nation’s economy, since agriculture sector still contributes about 30 percent to the economy. 

Shortage of food grains, vegetables, fish and meat along with inflation throughout the nation is almost certain due the devastation in the bread basket. Many people who were working on the fields have lost their jobs. The unemployment rate of 2.1 percent (source: Nepal Labor Market Update, ILO, 2017) will surely increase which can cause loss of human resources to other nations in coming days. 

Not only the agriculture sector, but industries and trade have equally been hit by the flood. Biratnagar, the industrial capital of Nepal, also has been affected by the flood. Damage to the industrial machineries due to the flood has been reported.

Moreover, agriculture is the source of raw materials for the industries and the damage to agriculture is undoubtedly going to affect the industrial outputs of Biratnagar, Hetauda, Chitwan and other major industrial hubs. 

Shortage of agricultural and industrial goods is destined to result in import of these goods which is going to cause billions of rupees leave the nation. This will cause price hike daily essentials. And the population below the poverty line is certain to increase since most of the people in the flood affected areas are on the edge of poverty line. 

With more than 7,000 homes destroyed (source: UN Office of the Resident Coordinator) and other infrastructural damages, the reparation and reconstruction process is sure to cost billions of rupees causing a serious loss to the economy. 

Similarly, schools and colleges could not run for many days hampering the educational sector. In my recent visit to the flood affected areas I saw that many people have migrated to elevated areas to avoid possible threats. The flood has displaced over 18,000 families. Psychological effects are also equally disappointing. People in the flood affected areas still live in the fear that another hazard might take place and what has remained will not be retained. The people seem perplexed about what to do next and how to cope with the devastated condition after the flood despite the aids from different agencies including government. 

While waiting for the detailed reports, we can say that Koshi Tappu Wild Life Reserve and Chitwan National Park have faced some severe losses of flora and fauna. The imbalance in ecology can be harmful to the wildlife as well as humans in coming days.

Similarly, environmental effects cannot be underestimated since they directly relate to health and life of people. Recently, the news about sightings of snakes in the flood-hit areas was reported. Series of snake bite cases are probable if immediate actions are not taken. The deposition of water in ditches is obviously making a home for eggs of mosquitoes and various disease causing agents. 

Tarai flood came and went. This was not our first experience, still we could do nothing to avoid the enormous harms of the disaster. Why do we think about disasters only when they come to our doors?

Government faced criticisms for its late reaction to 2015 earthquake, so the reactions to the flood were quite quicker but still the disaster preparedness is in the ground level. 

Having known that the tarai is prone to flood, the government should be proactive and focus on not only providing relief to the victims but also on minimizing the possible effects of floods. 

 

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