Reconstruction research in Nepal - March 2019

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The aim of this scoping study is to understand what research and learning already exist on reconstruction in Nepal (following the 2015 earthquake) and what evidence gaps there are which need to be filled by further research. The broader purpose of the scoping study is to ensure that further research on reconstruction avoids duplication and provides solid new evidence to inform and improve ongoing reconstruction efforts as well as any future post-disaster reconstruction efforts in Nepal.
The study looked at six themes associated with reconstruction, as well as various sub-topics within each of these themes:

Theme 1: Governance framework
Theme 2: House reconstruction process
Theme 3: Finance and economic recovery
Theme 4: Social impacts and needs
Theme 5: Displacement and resettlement
Theme 6: Infrastructure and heritage

Some obvious gaps in the evidence base were identified: There is no consistent recovery monitoring data to provide information on how people are rebuilding, who is unable to rebuild and why. There are also far fewer studies on economic impacts, finance, household coping and economic recovery, and building costs.
The discussion of how data management and information sharing systems impact reconstruction and how these may be improved is limited. Further, there is no solid information on environmental impacts of reconstruction.

Community engagement in the reconstruction process and in research has been limited and community voices are underrepresented; so are the other local actors such as local government, community organisations, masons, engineers, labourers and technical officers.

Stakeholders highlighted current information needs: They were primarily interested in a better operational understanding of who is most vulnerable in the context of postearthquake reconstruction. Further, stakeholders pointed to the need for better monitoring of recovery, community perceptions, and a clearer understanding of socio-cultural impacts. There was also significant interest in the roles, contributions and support needs of local governments as well as the transfer of learning to the new disaster preparedness framework in federal Nepal.

There also seems to be a need for more evidence and policy inputs on preserving vernacular architecture, scaling up resilience of housing beyond earthquake-affected areas through retrofitting, rebuilding traditional urban settlements, and resettlement.
Learning from the response should be captured by incorporating a wide range of experiences and viewpoints and should provide clear guidance for future preparedness and responses, according to the majority of stakeholders consulted.

The research also highlights findings on how the uptake of evidence may be increased.
Stakeholders mentioned the need for more accessible and user friendly research outputs, consistent and timely synthesis and engagement of research, and better coordination around research needs and findings. A research hub or platform was seen as useful for these purposes.