CityNet National Chapter Nepal hosted a Webinar for sharing experiences and lessons learned from COVID-19 Pandemic on 13 August 2020. The webinar aimed to bring all National Chapter members and potential members together on an online platform to share ideas and experiences on responding to the COVID-19 Global pandemic in their respective areas.The Webinar started with welcoming remarks from Mr. Hari Bahadur Mahat, Mayor, Hetauda Sub-Metropolitan and Chair of CityNet Nepal National Chapter. Mayor Mahat briefly shared about how local governments are working locally in dealing with this pandemic.
National Society for Earthquake Technology-Nepal (NSET), as a host organization of CityNet Nepal National Chapter, with support from Hetauda Sub-metropolitan City, Chair of National Chapter, Lalitpur Metropolitan City, Vice Chair of CityNet Executive Committee and other member cities of CityNet National Chapter, facilitated the webinar. The webinar included a brief opening session, technical presentations, a closing discussion, and a closing session. CityNet Nepal National Chapter’s Webinar for Sharing Experiences and Lessons Learned from COVID-19 Pandemic was conducted.
Mr. Chiribabu Maharjan, Mayor, Lalitpur Metropolitan City (LMC) and Vice Chair of CityNet Executive Committee highlighted the importance of such webinars in the current situation and briefly talked on the efforts made by LMC for preparedness and responding to COVID-19. Emphasizing the need of coordination and seriousness from all sectors, Mayor Maharjan wished the webinar to come with some innovative ideas for COVID 19 risk reduction.
From Bheemdatta Municipality, Ms. Gomati Awasthi shared the experience and lessons from the locality while preparing and responding to COVID-19. As Bheemdatt Municipality shares the boundary with India, tracing COVID-19 and proper management of commuters from India is one of the major challenges. However, the municipality has put its all efforts including the mobilization of municipal resources, of community volunteers, non-government organizations and private sectors for preparedness and risk reduction.
Mr. Suraj Shrestha, Senior Engineer from Dharan Sub-Metropolitan City made a brief presentation on an analysis of existing plans, policies and directives at different levels and their practicality in responding to COVID-19 in the municipalities. Mr. Shrestha critically pointed out the DRRMA -2017, LSGA 1999 and other central and local level policy and acts in which coordination and support mechanism among the neighboring districts and local governments has not been clearly explained. He further stressed that the COVID-19 response activities and strategies should be based on the evidence and information collected from the affected areas.
Mr. Kendra Hirata, Director of Programs, CityNet Yokohama Project Office sharing examples of international and regional measures to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 cases, as a good reference to be followed to minimize the increasing cases of COVID-19 cases in Nepal. The steps taken in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, and New Zealand were simple to follow, innovative and effective. To summarize, stage wise lockdown, applying principles of DRR, and the concept of Self-help, Mutual help and public support for COVID-19 preparedness and response were some exemplary efforts, which can be replicated in Nepal. Mr. Hirata recommended some of the actions to be taken in Nepal to be patrolling in communities to ensure everyone is wearing masks, record keeping of data related to COVID-19 cases, and provision of rewards and penalties based on the rules followed to boost the motivation towards discipline among citizens.
A total of 35 participants, including mayors, deputy mayors, executive officers, organization heads and senior professionals, attended the webinar, representing different member and potential member cities/organizations.
The technical presentations were followed by questions, answers, and discussions. All participants appreciated the presentations and expressed that they could learn from the international national experiences, which can be guidance for moving forward in the respective areas. In the context of spreading multi-sectoral and spatial impact of COVID-19, the efforts and strategies should be made considering the multidimensional approach and practical and sustainable solutions.
The webinar was closed with the concluding remarks by Mr. Surya Narayan Shrestha, Executive Director of NSET, the host organization of the Nepal National Chapter. Mr. Shrestha stressed that the detailing and procedural description in the guidelines is still needed in Nepal. There are limited resources, however, limited resources is not the major problem for COVID-19 risk reduction, but proper management and mobilization of resources is the main. He further stressed the requirement of research and innovation in the field of DRRM.
The webinar was moderated by Mr. Ganesh Kumar Jimee, Director of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Response Division of NSET. Mr. Jimee announced that a similar webinar is going to be conducted by CityNet National Chapter Nepal on 3 September 2020.