At the Thimphu thromde’s disaster management committee meeting yesterday, understanding secondary hazard, identifying vulnerable groups and places, and the need for the stakeholders to work together were seen as important to develop thromde’s disaster management plan.

The discussion was part of the risk assessment process of the thromde’s disaster management plan.

Department of Disaster Management’s (DDM) programme officer, Tenzin Choden, said that following an earthquake in Kobe, Japan, fire broke out which caused further damage in the country. “Most of the houses are built close to each other in Bhutan.”

She said building code is necessary in the country to monitor infrastructure. “We might be confident of the structures built after 2000, but we might have to think about those built before 2000.”

During the meeting, children were identified as the most vulnerable group. Schools and hospitals are the most important structures during a disaster.

Tenzin Choden said that if a disaster occurs, disaster plan must also identify right international assistance and volunteers within the community. “Communication and transportation are most important during a disaster without which identifying and providing relief could be difficult.”

There is a need for stakeholders such as Bhutan Power Corporation and telecommunication service providers to work together for the development of plan.

Thimphu Thrompon Kinlay Dorjee said that civil society organisations (CSOs) should also be part of the meeting. “If a disaster is to happen, we need to know what the CSOs can do and how they can assist. Providing them with an appropriate responsibility is important.”

Various stakeholders such as DDM, Royal Bhutan Police, Department of Geology and Mines, flood emergency management division, Ministry of Health, dzongkhag administration, and the thromde identified the hazardous areas.

In July this year, a working group that consists of representatives from economic affairs ministry, health ministry, thromde, Save the Children, Royal Bhutan Police, Paro dzongkhag administration, works and human settlement ministry, and DDM was formed to develop a comprehensive disaster management project for Bhutan.

The development of the thromde’s disaster management and contingency plan is a major activity under the comprehensive disaster management project for Bhutan 2017-2018.

The project is funded by ECHO-SC Norway through Save the Children Bhutan and is implemented by the education ministry, thromde, DDM, Paro dzongkhag administration, and Royal Education Council.

Phurpa Lhamo