In the aftermath to the 25 April 2015 earthquake the GDPC has compiled a brief outline of resources to guide the consideration of disaster preparedness and risk reduction in the context of the response and recovery in Nepal. Click here to see the Preparedness issues in Nepal Earthquake Recovery Guideline.
Nepal is a highly disaster prone country, which can be divided into three distinct topographic areas that each exhibit their own hazard profiles: mountain, hill and terrain. The mountain area in the north is characterized by steep mountains with significant risks from landslides, avalanches, and increasing climate risks associated with melting glaciers. The hill area in the middle of the country roughly aligns with the Main Himalayan Thrust fault which runs across Nepal and includes the area in which Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital city is located. The Terai to the south is an area of fertile plains, grasslands, and forests that is the agricultural hub of Nepal, but exposed to significant flood and drought risks. Nepal's
Nepal faces different types of recurrent disasters, such as environmental degradation, deforestation, soil erosion, landslides and floods. Floods are quite common in the plains, while landslides occur in hills and mountains, and avalanches in the Himalayan region. Fires have caused deforestation and health epidemics can cause a great threat to communities. The numbers of deaths, injuries and displacements are increasing every year. In addition, there are reported cases of earthquakes in different parts of the country.
Floods and landslides
Floods and landslides are regular phenomena in Nepal. The monsoon rainfall tends to wash away top-soil and rivers flow with mud and other solid materials. Landslides from the hills and mountains also affect the physical environment, while rivers swell and cause water logging in the plains. Landslides are mainly caused due to weak topographical structure, deforestation, and traditional practices of cultivation such as “slash and burn” procedures in small forests. All these natural phenomena have a serious affect on the safety and livelihoods of people living in and around these areas.
Nepal has experienced various earthquakes with different magnitudes since 1223, with recurring earthquakes claiming more than 23,000 lives (DP-Net 2010). Strong earthquakes hit Kathmandu Valley in 1934 and eastern Nepal in 1988, causing significant destruction. The Kathmandu Valley is considered the 11th most earthquake prone area in the world. The effects of these disasters are compounded by poor infrastructure, unplanned settlements and low levels of public awareness and preparedness. Poor construction standards, especially in Kathmandu, have exacerbated the earthquake risk, making Kathmandu one of the most vulnerable cities in the world. Too frequently the resilience features in traditional construction methods have been lost in the application of new construction materials and the increased density and pace of building in the Kathmandu Valley.
Fire incidents have been a regular occurrence in Nepal due to unplanned cluster settlements with thatched roofs. Fire incidents occurred in 23 districts in 2010, affecting 608 families, claiming 14 lives, and destroying a total of 569 houses.3 In both rural and urban areas, there are very few fire brigades, narrow lanes, and weak levels of preparedness and response capacity. Forest fires are also prevalent in late spring.
Epidemics, sometimes caused by natural disasters, affect a large number of people every year. Most epidemics are related to water-borne and vector-borne diseases. For instance, in 2009, an outbreak of acute watery diarrhea led to a health emergency leaving 342 persons dead and over 60,000 persons sick in 17 districts in the mid-west and far western regions. (NRCS Disaster Report 2010) The threat of H1N1 has also created a burden on public health services.
Drought and avalanches
Nepal has suffered from serious impacts of climate change and global warming, including both heavy rainfall and drought. In time of drought, some people migrate to new places in search of enough food, while the threat of flood waters from lakes and the melting of glaciers is also a challenge brought about by climate change.
However, at the same Nepal is also home to some very interesting disaster risk management initiatives. The Nepal Risk Reduction Consortium, initiated by UNDP and the government and now supported by a wide range of humanitarian and development organizations, has outlined 5 flagship programs to which the consortium partners have pledged to align their project activities. In addition Nepal in 2012 created a new Ministry of Urban Development which ideally should enable greater focus on urban risk in the Kathmandu Valley.
- Nepal Population Report 2011
Past disaster events
- EM-DAT listing of disaster events in Nepal
- Disaster statistics from UN-ISDR and CRED
- Risk country profile from Index for Risk Management
- Damage and losses statistics from Disaster Information Management Systems
- Disaster response and management data from ReliefWeb
Nepal’s risk rankings
Risk profiles and data
- Climate Change – Climate Change Vulnerability Mapping for Nepal
- Earthquake hazard map of Nepal – National Seismological Centre
- Urban Risk – Urban risk profile for Kathmandu
- UN-ISDR overview of disaster risk in Nepal
- HFA Progress Reports, government plans, and government statements and Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper – http://www.unisdr.org/partners/countries/npl
- NAPA site for Nepal
Red Cross + civil society
- IFRC appeals and info bulletins for Nepal
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