Indrabahadur Katwal, now in his late fifties has been operating rice mill for more than two decades. In these two decades, he sustained multiple cuts and injuries but nothing was as big as the severity of 2015 earthquake. He feels himself lucky enough to have his mill intact where he sheltered and fed more than 40 people for several days after the quake.
As the time passed by, he realized that his mill would not withstand another earthquake. He thought of reconstructing the building but he barely thought of other elements that could put his business and life at risk.
Things were changed a bit after he got an opportunity to participate in a training on preparing continuity plan for business and first aid provided by an Urban Resilience Project namely PRAGATI.
He has now broadened his understanding of risk at his mill, ways to continue his business during disaster and his potential contribution to community. “After earthquake, I rebuilt my mill by making it structurally stronger, but had not thought of the electric lines that could cause risk to me and my customer,” he shared, “The training has helped me understand risk elements better.”
Afterward, he installed salt capacitor to control the voltage being supplied to the machines. Also, the space management was crucial in his mill. As the people entered the mill, they used to place their grains elsewhere such as near the machines resulting in movement of the people at time.
“It would be really devastating if earthquake or short circuit occurs if we don’t manage the manageable things. Instead of running in panic, taking safety measure will greatly help us,” he shared.
Now he has moved the grains aside and kept enough space for free movement of customer and himself. Not for himself, he has now kept tools to switch off the transformers in case of emergency, contributing to make community safer. Learning from the training and his past experiences he has kept first aid kit at his mill and shows confidence to treat minor injuries.
The biggest achievement for himself, however, is the increment in his storage capacity and installation of evacuation route. Some people ask him rationale of having evacuation route as he has single room and single door to escape. To which he proudly shares that this route may not be as important in his mill but has more importance in everyone’s house and community. He is developing himself as a champion to sharing these issues in the community interacting with his customers. Also, he has invested in increasing his storage capacity from 100 tons to 250 tons so as to make sure he operates during disaster and also be able to supply in dire situation of community.
Indrabahadur, who had supplied potatoes and grains to earthquake-affected people in Sindhupalchok after 2015 earthquake, has also expressed his commitment to ward officials to supply the grains and operate his mill even during the disaster without hiking price.