Dissecting the 2015 Nepal Earthquake: Rural Response and Way Forward for Nepal




Kharel, Ramu

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INTRODUCTION: In 2015, a protracted 7.8 Richter-magnitude earthquake, 50 seconds in duration, ravaged Nepal. Officials were not fully prepared for the impact of this catastrophe and mitigation protocols have since been implemented. Based on the Gorkha earthquake experience, however, many response shortcomings persist. This study was designed to review the Gorkha earthquake in the context of other earthquakes worldwide and, in turn, analyze current preparedness strategies for Nepal. Additional recommendations were to be derived based on those findings. METHODS: The Nepali government's home ministry and ministry of health's documents on disaster response protocols were reviewed in detail. Published reports addressing earthquakes in Nepal, Armenia, Japan and Haiti were analyzed for comparison including those discussing banditry and rural politics. Based on these findings and the additional expert advice of disaster specialists, recommendations were assimilated with the intention of augmenting current preparedness strategies for the people of Nepal. RESULTS: A major finding of the analysis was that, although detailed response protocols were developed for Nepal, the focus was largely limited to the urban (high-population) areas. Detailed plans for rural settings were not specifically addressed even though the recent earthquake affected non-urban districts massively. Also, sparse resources, logistical barriers and distance challenges were faced by the rural jurisdictions further hampering the response and recovery and escalating the disparities. CONCLUSION: In the context of other global experience, disaster preparedness, response and recovery protocols are essential to lessening the impact of earthquakes and can change outcomes. Based on the Gorkha earthquake experience, it has been recommended that the Nepali government should now take steps (detailed in the text) to facilitate the first 72 hours of response to its high-risk, logistically-challenged rural jurisdictions by strengthening the local health systems and emergency management response frameworks, ensuring improved parity in disaster preparedness for all citizens.

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