Earthquake resilience in Nepal: Impact enhancement through inter-community learning and a TV documentary

Lead Research Organisation: University of Sheffield
Department Name: Politics


This application is to support work to enhance the impact of our previous project, 'Resilience Policymaking in Nepal: Giving Voice to Communities' (Grant Ref: ES/R000514/1). This proposal involves all of the investigators from the original project (both UK and Nepal-based), and adds new collaborators and communities in Nepal with whom we hope to broaden the impact of our findings through inter-community dialogues between villages that were and were not affected by the earthquakes of 2015, policy workshops, and a professionally produced television documentary to be broadcast free-to-air, nationwide.

The original project focussed on communities in two Districts (Gorkha and Sindhupalchok) that had been severely affected by the earthquakes of 2015. A range of findings from these communities covered the entire disaster cycle, from preparedness activities through to relief and reconstruction. In particular, a range of issues around the government's attempts to build resilience through the reconstruction process were identified, as well as community-level actions that had either contributed to, or been an obstacle to, post-disaster recovery.

One of the most striking findings of the project was that resilience-building efforts were almost entirely focussed on those areas that had been severely affected in 2015. Other parts of the country - including districts such as Mugu in the Far West - have received very limited support for improving their ability to cope with future natural disasters. This is particularly problematic because many communities in Mugu are in fact more vulnerable (and generally poorer) than those who were affected in 2015. There is also anecdotal evidence (not least from PHASE Nepal, our NGO partner, which has a permanent presence in Mugu) that awareness about disaster risks in these remote communities is currently extremely low.

In this follow-on project, we propose to begin to address this issue by promoting inter-community learning between villagers from Gorkha and Sindhupalchok who participated in the original project, and communities in Mugu District which do not have recent experience of major earthquakes. Utilising similar participatory methodologies to those employed in the original project, we will seek to broaden and deepen its impact through a series of methods including participatory videomaking, inter-community dialogues, policy/stakeholder workshops, and the creation of a professionally-produced 30 minute documentary to be screened on Nepal TV.

Planned Impact

Who will benefit from this research?
The activities proposed here are intended to benefit three groups: i) The study communities and other communities across Nepal; ii) Policy-makers/implementers and other relevant stakeholders in Nepal; and iii) International audiences, academics and communities of practice.

How will they benefit from this research? What will be done to ensure they have the opportunity to benefit from this activity?

i) Communities:
In our original study communities in Gorkha and Sindhupalchok, their involvement in the activities proposed here will provide a further opportunity for reflection on the co-produced findings of the original project, and for further discussion of these issues between the participatory video teams and their wider communities.
In two additional villages in Mugu District (specifically, in Chhayanath and Soru Rural Municipalities) the aim is to increase knowledge and understanding of natural disaster risks and to stimulate a process of inter-community learning through engagement with those who lived through the earthquakes of 2015. This will include sharing of suggestions and advice on practical community-level initiatives that could improve their ability to cope with future disasters.
The television documentary is designed to allow the key study findings to reach broader audiences across the country, via national television, raising awareness and allowing other individuals and communities to reflect on issues of disaster risk and resilience within their own settings.

ii) Policymakers/implementers and other stakeholders:
Local leaders at the community level will be involved in the village-level events in order to assist in the identification of community needs for enhancing resilience, and to consider potential community-level initiatives and activities that could be implemented - including suggestions from the communities in Gorkha and Sindhupalchok.
A workshop in Surkhet, the provincial capital covering Mugu District, will bring together our community-level participants with Provincial government officials and other province-level stakeholders (e.g. NGO staff). The aim of this workshop will be to sensitise provincial-level stakeholders, to discuss needs identified in the communities, and to consider practical ways in which the Provincial government (which has formal responsibility for DDR) could help these communities and other like them in the province to increase their levels of resilience to future natural disasters.
At the national level, The National Reconstruction Authority will host the final policy/stakeholder workshop in Kathmandu and the CEO will formally invite his colleagues from other government ministries, including from the representatives of National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority as well as other relevant stakeholders, e.g. (I)NGOs, and international donors. This workshop, at which the UK-based investigators will also be present, will have the aim of identifying ways in which communities in non-earthquake affected parts of the country can be supported by government to be more prepared for future disasters, again building on and enhancing the finding described above about the relative paucity of action on capacity building and prevention.
A one-page 'aide memoire distilling some of the key messages from these events will be produced and shared with all participants in the policy/stakeholder events.

iii) International audiences
The research team will present the documentary (with English language subtitles) at a variety of events, including the Sheffield Institute for International Development Research documentary series, at a public event as part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science, and at academic conferences (e.g. the Annual Natural Hazards Research and Applications Workshop, Boulder U.S.A) and film festivals. These screening events will allow for the engagement of wider public, academic, policy and professional audiences.


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