Nepal, a landlocked country predominantly situated in the Himalayas, is among the most disaster- prone states in the world. In 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake killed nearly 9,000 people and injured close to 22,000. Following the disaster, the Government of Nepal (GoN) initiated immediate relief efforts, mobilizing multiple government agencies, 90% of the Nepali Army, local communities, volunteers, youth groups, approximately 100 international search and rescue teams, and over 450 aid organizations.
The Capstone team aimed to identify areas of strength and improvement within the GoN’s current disaster management strategies and response coordination, categorized within two of the five flagship priorities identified by the Nepal Disaster Risk Reduction Consortium (NRRC): Emergency Response and Preparedness Capacity, and Integrated Community-Based Disaster Risk Reduction/Management.
Through an extensive literature review, the team observed persistent challenges to civilian-security force communication and coordination, effective international and subnational response, and consideration for vulnerable populations. From interviews conducted with key stakeholders in Kathmandu, it was evident that many structural and operational obstacles continue to constrain the GoN’s disaster preparedness and response capacity. These challenges can be mitigated through stronger institutionalization of disaster response coordination, including increased bilateral and multilateral agreements, and clearer delineation of responsibilities. Enhancing disaster response exercises and exchanges can also create mutual awareness and understanding of protocols.
The final report contains research findings and offers key recommendations that address several areas of disaster preparedness: domestic security force response, international response, technology and communication, and Nepal’s transition to federalism.