September Analysis: National Security and Climate Change

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The heavy precipitation this year caused severe damages to livelihood and infrastructures. In regard to Covid-19, the country has reopened completely, but health experts have warned of a possible cluster infection, especially because of influx of people entering the country for Dashain. PM Deuba, addressing the UN General Assembly, has highlighted the importance of global partnership to build a sustainable and resilient world. Furthermore, Pampha Bhusal, Energy, Water Resources, and Irrigation minister has prepared a roadmap for achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 by providing affordable and clean energy to everyone by 2030.

Timeline of major events

DatesEvent
August 29As reported by the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management, 94 people have lost their lives and 44 are missing since the start of monsoon this year.
September 12Ministry of Health and Population has activated an early warning and reporting system in Nepal following an outbreak of Nipah virus in the state of Kerala in India.
September 13Covax has confirmed that it will deliver 100,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNtech Covid-19 vaccines to Nepal.
September 14Nepal Health Research Council has been preparing to conduct a safety and efficacy study to find out the efficiency of the vaccines administered in the country.
September 21Nepal-India joint military exercise ‘Surya Kiran’ begun in Uttarakhand and will continue till October 3.
September 22The Public Procurement Monitoring Office has proposed barring of the elected representatives and government employees to participate in user committees for public construction works to prevent conflict of interest while implementing construction projects.
September 23In an event at NA headquarters, PM Deuba has urged the NA to identify national security concerns and move forward with proper strategy.
September 25PM Deuba, addressing the high-level dialogue on September 25, has emphasized on the importance of renewed global partnership to move towards a greener, safer, and more sustainable world.
September 27PM Deuba announced that vaccinating 33 per cent of the targeted groups by October 17 would be the government’s first priority.

Monsoon ran ravage but people see hardly any hope of rehabilitation

In the past month, monsoon has led to deaths of many people, caused damage to infrastructures and affected people’s livelihoods. Since the start of monsoon, 120 people have lost their lives, and many are still missing in Nepal.Similarly, the heavy rainfall also damaged household properties and infrastructures such as the newly built dam of Bheri Babai Multidiversion project and drinking water supply of Beni Municipality. The damage caused in Bheri Babai project has pushed the project by three years. Likewise, the lack of reconstruction of the water supply in Beni Municipality has directly impacted 120 individuals due to unsafe drinking water conditions. The devastation caused by the floods and landslides has forced people from different parts of the country to migrate and seek alternative livelihood. A school in Darchula which was swept away by last year’s flood and landslide are currently running their classes in tents as no rehabilitation programs have been initiated yet. Also, the affected and displaced families of Darchula see no hope of resettlement.

Passenger bus crossing the river daily at risk as there is no bridge over the river in Chhedagad Municipality-1. The Chheda-Chankhila Sanakhola has been affected daily due to ongoing monsoon. Photo: RSS

Earlier this year, the South Asian Seasonal Climate Outlook Forum (SASCOF) had forecasted that most of the region in Nepal would get above average rainfall. As forecasted, the heavy precipitation caused severe livelihood damages and damages to infrastructures including bridges, roads, community schools and government buildings. In many parts of the country, the actual damage caused by this year’s floods and landslides haven’t been evaluated properly. So, it is difficult to assess how much money the reconstruction and rebuilding process would require. Although the new substitution budget has separated funds to repair the Melamchi Drinking Water Project by May 2022, no additional funds have been separated for the rebuilding of other damaged infrastructures and relief funds for the displaced and affected families. Furthermore, the rehabilitation and rebuilding processes put forth by the government have been slow as indicated by previous years. However, the government has also been facing criticism for prioritizing relief funds rather than focusing on long term disaster management.

Country has reopened completely but the risk of Covid-19 still looms large

Covid-19 cases have declined but the delta variant of the virus is still circulating in the communities. Despite the strong warnings from health experts, the authorities decided to reopen the cinemas, nightclubs, and schools. Although the cases have declined in recent days, public health experts have warned that there is a high possibility of cluster infection in the coming days. Furthermore, lack of proper border screenings coupled with increased number of people entering the country for Dashain can increase the risk of cluster infection. Apart from Covid-19, Ministry of Health and Population has activated an early warning and reporting system following an outbreak of Nipah virus in the state of Kerala in India. The lack of proper screenings in the border also runs the risk of Nipah virus outbreak in the country, along with the entry of other diseases such as dengue, malaria, and influenza.

To address the risks associated with reopening, the government has ramped up the vaccination drive, and to this date, it has fully vaccinated around 21.5% of the total population fully. Similarly, Covax has confirmed that it would deliver 100,000 doses of Pfizer-BioNtech vaccines in an effort to support the vaccination drive. Furthermore, PM Deuba has clarified that Covid-19 vaccination is the government’s top priority and plans to vaccinate 33 per cent of the targeted population by October 17. Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) conducted a seroprevalence test which concluded that around 68.6 percent of the total population have developed Covid-19 antibody. Nepal Health Research Council, after 8 months of starting the first vaccination drive is preparing to study the safety and efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccines currently administered in the country. The study will help understand the efficiency of vaccines and determine if a third dose of booster shot is needed. The efficiency of the vaccines is still unknown and around 1000 people are testing positive for Covid-19 daily, which increases the risk of cluster infection.

Climate Change and National Security

In an event titled ‘Climate change session with Nepal banks, CEOs and chairpersons’, organized by FMO, 67 percent of the participants believed that climate change will impact the businesses in three to five years. In the last few years, the impact of climate change has also been evident in the agricultural sector. The farmers are directly dependent on the environment which makes them more susceptible to the changing environment.

PM Deuba, addressing the high-level dialogue in the 76th UN General Assembly through a pre-recorded video highlighted the importance of robust and renewed global partnership to build a greener, safer, and more sustainable world. Similarly, he also talked about the need for ensuring easier and direct access to financing for modern technologies. The use of modern technologies especially in agriculture would help reduce the farmers’ dependency on environment and make them more resilient. Similarly, Energy, Water Resources, and Irrigation minister Pampha Bhusal has prepared a roadmap for achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 7 with the support from United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. The goal of this roadmap is to provide affordable and clean energy to everyone by 2030. Furthermore, in an event organized at the Nepal Army (NA) headquarters, PM Deuba has urged the NA to identify national security concerns and move forward with proper strategy. He applauded the role played by NA in disaster management especially during Covid-19 and expressed his commitments to support them in future projects.

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