On high monsoon alert in Nepal

“Tools like OpenStreetMap could provide crucial topographical detail, identify disaster-prone areas, and tell us about road conditions if they were washed out after a flood,” Niraula says. “All of this information is vital for community members to be prepared for dire situations.”

OpenStreetMap (OSM) is an important tool for improving community engagement, it is free and an open web map that anyone can edit as needed. Its importance was first realized during the response to the 2015 earthquake, where more than 7,500 contributors from around the world supported the logistics of the Nepalese government and non-governmental organizations involved in the relief.

Many OSM-related data mapping and validation projects have been carried out in coordination with local government and non-governmental organizations in a few municipalities, including Chautara Sangachowkgadi and Melamchi in Sindhupalchok district.

Also read: Nepal needs weather stations in the Himalayas, Rijan Bhakta Kayastha

These municipalities have developed a BIPAD portal to improve disaster preparedness and post-incident coordination, strengthen disaster communication and emergency response. To improve the database of municipalities, the portal used free tools, open road maps and stored geodata of schools, hospitals, banks and other infrastructure located in the municipality.

“The development of the portal was crucial and timely. We have free sources of information at our fingertips if only we are aware of them and trained to use them,” says Sujan Dulal, Disaster Officer of Melamchi Municipality.

The portal contains geospatial data that has helped improve the understanding of navigation locations and infrastructure located in Melamchi. This means it can identify open spaces, emergency shelters for use after the disaster, areas that can be used for relief distribution and also mark vulnerable structures.

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