Nepal: Lack of safe land leaves communities at risk of landslide and flooding during the monsoon season

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Man carries massive wood log in an earthquake-affected village

Ahead of the 2016 monsoon season in Nepal, concerns were raised that the destabilization in terrain conditions caused by the 2015 earthquakes could significantly increase the risk of landslides during monsoon rains, both in areas historically prone to landslides and flash floods, and areas that have become susceptible following the earthquakes.

In preparation of the monsoon season, the Nepal Shelter Cluster decided to develop a contingency plan focusing on the 14 earthquake-affected priority districts and 22 Terai districts previously affected by widespread flooding. In order to inform this contingency plan, REACH was requested by the cluster to facilitate a monsoon preparedness assessment across the identified districts. The assessment included a macro-level secondary data analysis to identify risk areas and estimate potential caseloads, along with collection and analysis of primary data to understand expectations of assistance, level of preparation and potential coping strategies, focusing on families already living in emergency (tents/tarpaulin) or temporary shelters.

The macro-level analysis enabled an identification of Village Development Committees (VDCs) most at risk of landslides and flooding. Within them, caseloads were estimated using a methodology derived from IASC’s Humanitarian Population Figures ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom-up approaches’.  The number of households most likely to need assistance in the event of monsoon impacts was estimated at 66,975 in Terai districts and at 46,894 in the 14 earthquake priority districts.

The micro-level data revealed that communities are overall aware of the risks they face but encounter considerable barriers when trying to mitigate them. For instance, many families reported not being able to purchase safe land or materials to strengthen shelters. In earthquake affected areas, many were uncertain on how to determine whether land is safe to build on and feared the impact of the monsoon: “Roads and land are at risk of extinction here, in 20 years there will be no Mamkha VDC,” predicts one FGD participant. Families in flood-affected Terai locations planned to resort to coping strategies such as taking turns to stay awake throughout the night during monsoon months, to ensure floods are noticed in time to enable all family members to flee to safety.

Assessment findings have been integrated by the Shelter cluster in its contingency plan and will be used by shelter actors to support monsoon-affected populations.

To read REACH’s recommendations based on findings from this assessment, access the full report here.