Getting down to local level: exploring vulnerability to improve disaster management systems in Nepal

Komal Aryal

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This research explores disaster vulnerability in Nepal. Disaster vulnerability is increasing due to the following reasons: weak governance; demographic growth; rapid urban expansion; relatively weak land use planning; the growth of informal settlements; poor construction methods; steep land farming practices; the encroachment of river plains and forest areas; and environmental degradation. This research is divided into three parts; problem overview, mapping past disaster events and community vulnerability. Often disaster management practice at the national level has tended to focus on large-scale events. In Nepal, there is a history of government responses to large-scale disasters; however, evidence increasingly shows that small-scale disasters have a more significant impact on people’s livelihoods. This is the case in Nepal and it is unclear whether small-scale disasters have prompted policy change. The purpose of this research is to evaluate the impact of small-scale disasters and to ascertain if there is any evidence of a shift in government disaster management policy. Local disasters seem to dominate the lived risk experience, but there is little understanding of how small-scale disasters can contribute to disaster risk reduction knowledge. Urban and rural communities differ in their understanding of small-scale disaster knowledge base, not least because both populations have little experience of the risks they take as a result of migration to new environments. This study captures 10 years of field experience in Nepal. This research has found that:- Small-scale disasters have a greater impact than larger disasters. Without an integrated policy and legislative framework approach from government and a focus on small-scale disasters, it is unlikely that effective disaster risk reduction measures will be integrated into sector development planning. People’s knowledge of, relationship to, and interactions with small-scale hazards in a changing climate produce new risks and vulnerabilities at the local level. This thesis concludes with recommendations for improving disaster risk reduction at the local level in Nepal.
Original languageEnglish
  • O'Keefe, Phil, Supervisor
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 19 Jan 2012


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