Aid Governance, Resilience, and Community-driven Reconstruction in Urban Settlements in the Kathmandu Valley Following the 2015 Earthquake

We investigate how communities and households are recovering, mobilising, and rebuilding in urban areas of Nepal following the devastating 2015 earthquake. Using applied anthropological methods, we analyse community dynamics, perspectives of vulnerability and risk, and the intersection between ‘bottom-up’ local responses, and ‘top-down’ formal disaster governance structures. The results contribute towards academic discussions about resilience, aid governance, disaster justice, and reconstruction in urban environments, and provide practical guidance on how to align external assistance with locally driven post-disaster responses. During FY17 the project successfully completed its initial milestones, and the research team has begun to analyse data for academic output.

During FY 18, as planned, we completed an extensive amount of data collection. During FY18 we:

  • Conducted over 6,000 detailed individual household surveys using a pro-forma recording process. This was done for ALL structures in four of our five case study areas that were heavily damaged or destroyed in the earthquake. This survey provides a comprehensive dataset about resident profiles, obstacles faced to rebuild, and strategies used to rebuild.
  • Mapped out all five of the case study settlements and created a spatial database showing the progress of reconstruction for all heavily damaged structures. We produced monthly maps of progress, allowing us to see how the reconstruction is progressing at regular intervals. We used this mapping as the basis for sampling households for in-depth ethnographic assessment.
  • Sub-sampled approximately 30 households from each of the five settlements, across three categories of progress (already completed rebuilding; in the process of rebuilding; and not yet rebuilding). We started running dossiers for each sampled household so we can monitor each of their individual paths to recovery. The dossiers include multiple interviews, time-series photos, and reconstruction progress reports.
  • Conducted formal in-depth key informant interviews with settlement leadership, members of the National Reconstruction Authority, relevant figures in municipal and district governments, and staff from NGOs involved in the reconstruction.

For FY19 our main goals are to wrap up final monitoring and data collection, continue data analysis, and complete the final project output.

Funding Sources: 

  • Earth Observatory of Singapore

Project Years: 


EOS Team: 

Principal Investigator


Pia Hollenbach, World Habitat Research and Consulting, University of Zurich

Sabin Ninglekhu