Note: On 25 April 2015 during the finalization of this Nepal book, tragically a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck in the Lamjung District located 81 kilometers northwest of Kathmandu killing thousands and affecting millions of citizens. The earthquake to date has affected over 50 districts in Nepal and caused an avalanche on Mount Everest which killed approximately 20 people and injuring many. This is the most powerful disaster to strike Nepal since an earthquake in 1934. This book will not contain detailed information/reference pertaining to response efforts for the earthquake due to the ongoing and evolving disaster situation. The U.S. Embassy Nepal country team and UNOCHA will provide feedback on the report after earthquake recovery efforts subside.
This country book focusing on Nepal is intended to be a reference for individuals deploying to conduct disaster preparedness engagements or disaster response operations in Nepal, but it is not meant to be a checklist or manual for all disaster response operations. The research team conducted extensive research and analysis on existing Nepal plans, policies, and capabilities related to disaster management and risk reduction. The team also reached out to United States Government (USG) stakeholders and open source research to compile this book.
Nepal is extremely vulnerable to natural disasters such as floods, landslides, fire, drought and epidemics killing hundreds of people each year. The country is also vulnerable to seismic activity from the Indian and Tibetan plates. Nepal’s geography is an obstacle for improving transportation and utilities throughout the country. The Himalayan Mountains in the north along with other high mountains pose huge physical hurdles. The southern part of the country also presents its own hurdles such as lowland plains and rivers originating from the mountains. The country’s vulnerability to disasters is associated with poor human development indicators, population growth, conflict, poor construction practices due lack to adherence of building codes and climate change impacts. Due to the bumpy topography, limited roads in rural areas and being a landlocked country, transportation in Nepal is challenging at times and depends on India for transit facilities.
Preparedness at the national level is a priority for Nepal and the government’s vision is to transform the country into a disaster resilient nation. Through the Natural Calamity Relief Act, the Central Natural Disaster Relief Committee is the primary committee to implement policies and programs for disaster response. There are relief committees at all levels in the government with coordination between all of them.
The country is affected by climate change and ranks as the fourth most climate vulnerable country in the world due to its exposure to natural hazards and varying weather patterns. Climate projections predict increased climate variability and increased frequency in events. There has been urgency in addressing this issue by formulating a policy and implementing programs. A national policy has been put in place to ensure a percentage of the financing be allocated to support implementation down at the local level. Since becoming a federal republic in 2008, Nepal has been working towards establishing a new constitution which is still in progress. The lack of a constitution is impacting the country’s economy and security.