Earthquake Impact, Coping Mechanism, and the Community Discourses: Experiences from the Central Hills of Nepal

  • Mukti Suvedi
Keywords: Conflict, Disaster, Earthquake, Nepal earthquake, Peace


Introduction: Nepal is vulnerable to many hazards and disasters. Geographically, Nepal is situated at the Indi-an and Eurasian seismic plates and is prone to disasters like floods, landslides, fire, and earthquakes. The earthquake of April 25, 2015, with a 7.8 Richter scale and several aftershocks, have resulted in a considerable loss of human lives, physical infrastructure, and natural resources in Nepal. Many studies on the impacts of the earthquake mentioned the challenges in community recovery. This paper examines and explains the impact of earthquakes on family and community, how family and community cope during the disaster. Besides coping mechanisms, this paper explains discourses or conflicts in the family and communities. The paper is an outcome of a statistical analysis of 912 households' survey conducted in Nepal's central hill, Kispang Rural municipality, a community affected by the 2015 earthquake in Nuwakot district.

Methods: This research relies on literature review, key informant interviews, Focus Group Discussions (FGD), field visits, expert interviews, etic and emic approaches to observe from the field. The research questionnaires were prepared and performed a household survey of 912 households. Various questions on how the earthquake in Nepal "X" has created the "Y" impacts and discourses or conflict in the family and the community in Nepal's central hills were analyzed.

Results: The earthquake has impacted the families and communities; however, the families and communities had shown distinct coping mechanisms to stay resilient to the impact—various factors were identified where family discourses and conflict escalated, which has impacted the community peace. Family level discourses and conflict emerged mainly in collectivist society or joint or extended families. Gender-based violence/ conflict is also measured and found augmented after the earthquake in the community.  

Conclusion: The research study concluded that family discourses and conflict emerged when disaster relief and reconstruction policies do not incorporate the affected communities' needs. The multi-dimensional holistic, integrated policies that integrate all the affected communities' needs will support building community and family-level peace. Discriminative policies that divide families and communities should not be practiced.