Emergent Issues and Vulnerability Factors in Temporary and Intermediate Shelters Following the 2015 Nepal Earthquake

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The 25 April 7.8 magnitude Gorkha earthquake and subsequent aftershocks, including the 7.3 magnitude earthquake in Dolakha, has caused devastation in Nepal on a scale not seen since the 1934 Nepal-Bihar Earthquake. According to the Government of Nepal, the Gorkha earthquake and aftershocks have severely damaged or destroyed nearly 900,000 buildings and approximately 2.3 million people continue to be displaced. The Gorkha earthquake created an unprecedented need for emergency shelter as well as temporary and transitional housing. A CEDIM-led research team conducted 284 household surveys in 177 locations spanning 27 Municipalities/VDCs and 7 districts. Types of shelter sites varied to include officially provided and spontaneous sites, located in urban and rural areas, and ranging from emergency shelter to temporary and transitional housing. The purpose of the study is to better understand the factors that increase vulnerability to being displaced. This report reviews the emergent issues with respect to decision processes of displaced households seeking shelter and temporary housing.

We found that many displaced residents sought refuge close to their homes in open spaces, with housing damage, and the threat of landslides and aftershocks being the main drivers to seeking shelter. After the earthquake most households continued to visit their homes even if severely damaged or destroyed. Within the shelter sites, sanitation, water and food were the main issues. A majority of households also admitted to suffering from emotional difficulties, and more than half confirmed that women in their households experienced additional problems.

In regards to communicating their issues, we found that households speak to government office officials over other agencies. Furthermore, they communicate in person, with cellphones, internet and social media barely contributing in this regard. We also found locations where camp management committees were created to represent the shelter sites when speaking to officials and other agencies. These committees became a source of information as well as a conduit to have household needs heard and potentially resolved.