Urban Reconstruction in Nepal Project

The Urban Reconstruction in Nepal Project studies the strategies being used to rebuild urban settlements destroyed by the 2015 earthquake in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal. The absence of aid and formal reconstruction guidelines has caused uncertainty, and limited the reconstruction of urban areas, especially within the 52 ‘historic’ settlements within the Kathmandu Valley. We find that individuals and collectives are slowly taking steps to rebuild their lives, largely on their own initiative. These efforts range from households demolishing and rebuilding their home, to entire settlements forming community reconstruction committees and proposing reconstruction master-plans to national authorities and international donors.

Along with local partners in Nepal, we are conducting an ‘ethnography of reconstruction’ by mapping out destroyed buildings, collecting baseline data on the inhabitants, and inquiring about reconstruction decisions. In the first phase of our study, we are focusing upon six discrete geographic regions, five historic settlements, and one new ‘mixed-settlement’, to look at the initial stages of collectivization and strategy formation. It is our goal to collect household level date in these areas over a two year period to obtain an intimate and ‘real time’ dataset about how reconstruction decisions are made, the relationships between stakeholders, and the roles that governance structures and donors play in the rebuilding.

The Urban Reconstruction in Nepal Project is in part supported by the International Institute for Environment & Development (UK), and is co-directed by Dr. Patrick Daly, EOS; Dr. Jennifer Duyne Barenstein, World Habitat Research Centre, Switzerland; and Dr. Pia Hollenbach, World Habitat Research Centre, Switzerland.