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What Next for Nepal? Evidence of What Matters for Building Resilience After the Gorkha Earthquake

Mercy Corps
Olga Petryniak
Jon Kurtz and Sierra Frischknecht
Publication date: 
Monday, November 30, 2015

When a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal in April 2015, just 50 miles outside of the capital Kathmandu, the effects were devastating: over 9,000 people were killed, more than 800,000 homes were destroyed or badly damaged, and approximately 2.8 million people were displaced.

In nearly any disaster, not all households are impacted equally. Mercy Corps collected data from nearly 1,200 households in areas that were equally affected by the physical damage of the earthquake, but where there was a great deal of variation in how well people were coping or recovering. Ten weeks after the earthquake, households showed varied levels of food consumption patterns, shelter quality, livelihood recovery and investment in assets. The goal of this research is to understand what contributes to this difference: What capacities, if reinforced, hold the greatest potential to enhance coping, promote recovery, and strengthen the resilience of communities to future natural disasters in Nepal and similar contexts?

Mercy Corps defines resilience as the capacity to learn, cope, adapt and transform in the face of shocks and stresses. Resilience capacities can be understood as resources or strategies, employed before or after a crisis, that help households mitigate its effects in the short and long term. The study analyzed four capacities, or factors that could contribute to resilience: (1) disaster preparedness and response, (2) social identity and networks, (3) access to and use of financial services and (4) access to and use of economic options.