13-nation disaster response exercise begins in Pokhara
A joint project of Nepal Army and US Army Pacific has started a disaster response exercise and cooperation exchange program in Pokhara from Sunday.
Rathi Jit Bahadur Gurung, Assistant Director of the Disaster Management Directorate of the Nepal Army, said that representatives from 13 countries including the United States, United Kingdom, Thailand, Mongolia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh have been invited to the event.
According to him, presentations on ‘Disaster Management’ in the week-long program, group discussions and various disaster response exercises will be conducted. Stating that there have been four disaster response exercises and cooperation exchange programs in collaboration with the Nepal Army and the US Army Pacific since 2011, he said that this is the first such exercise in the provincial structure in Pokhara.
Major Jonathan Sawyer of the U.S. Army Pacific said the program would help reduce disaster risk. A total of 220 representatives including representatives of stakeholders will participate in the exercise, according to the organizers.
Inaugurating the program, Minister for Internal Affairs and Law of Gandaki Hari Bahadur Chuman said that Nepal is a natural disaster risk area based on its geographical location and added that such exercises would be useful in mitigating potential risks.
Stating that Nepal was hit by a major earthquake in 2072 BS and its impact on the social and economic sectors, he expressed confidence that the program of response exercises conducted at the provincial level would be fruitful.
Nepal Army Chief of Staff Rathi Gaurav Tandul said that this kind of joint response exercise would help in disaster risk reduction and management.