Kathmandu - The International Organization for Migration (IOM) is urging residents of Kathmandu to take part in actively preserving the 83 open spaces designated for humanitarian purposes in the event of natural disasters in the Kathmandu Valley. IOM in partnership with the Government of Nepal (GoN) and local organizations with financial support from USAID/OFDA will conduct public events from August to September 2015 at several Open Spaces sites in the Kathmandu Valley. The first public event will commence today at Jawalakhel Ground.
“We can't stop natural hazards but we can help change the way Nepal deals with disasters. Based on IOM findings, after the first earthquake, all the 83 open spaces gazetted by the Government in Kathmandu were used and those spaces provided people with immediate safety. We can learn lessons from the recent earthquakes’ aftermaths and make better plans for the future. Everyone should take part in measures to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from the hazards that pose the greatest risk. Therefore, it is really important that the community assumes ownership of the open spaces,” stated Mr Thomas Sinkovits, Acting Chief of Mission, IOM Nepal.
The open space concept was initiated in 2009 following the Koshi Flood Response and activation of the cluster approach in Nepal. Each open space has been allocated to accommodate for projected needs following a disastrous event in the Kathmandu Valley. The 83 open Spaces are designed to provide the initial response planning framework for the Government and partner agencies to be able to have a starting point from which to provide life-saving assistance to those in immediate need.
Learning from the recent disaster, we need to ensure that these 83 open spaces are protected or conserved. Any further development on the sites should be set aside indefinitely. While the main responsibility to protect and maintain the site lies with the Government, communities surrounding these spaces can and should also take part of the ownership of the spaces.
Communities can contribute to Government’s efforts to protect and maintain these spaces in many ways. They can start by visiting their local Community Disaster Management Committee (CDMC) to get information about these spaces and the overall disaster preparedness and response plan. Further, along with the CDMC, they can develop a coalition of community members which include women groups, youth clubs, local authorities, and local businesses which will reclaim and restore these open spaces. By doing this, communities can develop better planning for the use of these spaces when disaster occurs.
Another creative way is to turn some of these open spaces into recreational areas where people can play sports, walk their dogs, etc. By doing so, communities will increase their sense of ownership as these spaces fulfil their needs socially, economically and environmentally. Another point that might be considered is to incorporate green infrastructure into the planning.
Lastly communities need to act as the main stakeholder in promoting among themselves the importance of these spaces through public campaigns and social events.
This activity is conducted as part of the project entitled “Preparedness and Management of Open Spaces for Effective Humanitarian Response in the Kathmandu Valley (P-MOS)” which aims to support the GoN in the finalization of the usage of the 83 open spaces and raise public awareness of these spaces. IOM is currently finalizing the generic and adapted Standard Operation Procedure (SOPs) on first responders and camp management with the GoN.
IOM has developed strong working relationships with municipalities of the Kathmandu Valley’s officials through the preparation of ‘Earthquake Emergency Response Plans’ and which still continues through the joint work with GoN on the identification of open spaces and the ongoing development of the ‘Debris Management Operations Plan’.
To know more about the 83 open spaces location and its usage, please visit:
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