Reframing disaster governance: Lessons from Nepal’s 2015 earthquakes for inclusive and just disaster management

Authors: Krishna K. Shrestha*, University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney, Australia
Topics: Hazards, Risks, and Disasters, Mountain Environments, Third World
Keywords: Disaster justice, indigenous community resilience, Building back better, Disaster Risk Reduction, Governance
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/4/2019
Start / End Time: 9:55 AM / 11:35 AM
Room: 8212, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


The Himalayan region is a global disaster hotspot, with the interlinked problems of poverty, inequality, climate change, and marginalisation, particularly affecting women, poor and indigenous communities. As disasters in the Himalaya have become frequent and building resilience is the pressing issue, current disaster governance approaches of ‘building back better’ are important but elusive, especially in learning from local and indigenous communities. Little work has been done to recognise and mobilise indigenous knowledge and practices of inclusive disaster resilience. Drawing on Nepal’s disaster recovery practices in Gorkha, the paper investigates differential experiences of disaster by local communities and examines the question of how local indigenous communities relate to, and work with, governments, international agencies and non-government actors in responding to disasters in situations where the state is weak and politics is volatile, such as in Nepal, has received little attention. This paper highlights elements of the disaster justice and disaster management by reflecting upon the performance of the wide range of actors involved and distils lessons while the Nepali community, civil society and government continue their challenge of ‘building back better’ approach to disaster governance. The Nepal case provides important insights into the dynamics of ‘building back better’ in the presence of a largely unaccountable political system in which those affected are often disengaged from local politics and governance, hence the need for reframing disaster governance.

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