In the neo-liberal climate of reduced responsibility for the state, alongside global platforms established to implement the Hyogo Framework for Action, a new arena opens for a multitude of stakeholders to engage in disaster risk reduction (DRR). The key role that the state can play in instituting effective DRR tends to receive little attention, yet in situations where the state apparatus is weak, such as in Nepal, it becomes evident that integrating DRR into development is a particularly challenging task. Due to the political situation in Nepal, progress has been stalled in providing a legislative context conducive to effective DRR. This paper traces the evolution of key DRR initiatives that have been developed in spite of the challenging governance context, such as the National Strategy for Disaster Risk Management and the Nepal Risk Reduction Consortium. Informed by in-depth interviews with key informants, the argument is made that the dedicated efforts of national and international non-governmental organisations, multilateral agencies and donors in mainstreaming DRR demonstrate that considerable progress can be made even where government departments are protective of their own interests and are slow to enact policies to support DRR. The paper suggests however, that without stronger engagement of key political actors the prospects for further progress in DRR may be limited. The findings have implications for other post-conflict countries or weak states engaging in DRR.