Nepal: Livelihood and DRR training strengthens resilience

This recipe was concocted by the National Society for Earthquake Technology – Nepal (NSET), which supported a displaced community in the Kathmandu Valley by combining civic engagement, income generation, and the utilisation of DRR tools and information to enhance the community’s resilience and self-reliance.

  • Strengthen skills for employment and entrepreneurship
  • Co-develop a civic engagement platform with government authorities and displaced people
  • Support advocacy to access rights
  • Promote access to displacement risk reduction information and tools

Dozens of mixed informal settlements surround Kathmandu. While many people living in these communities are displaced as a result of conflict and disasters, others have relocated in pursuit of livelihood opportunities. After surveying over 50 mixed informal settlements in the Kathmandu Valley, NSET chose to work with a community located on an unplanned settlement on public property between the Bagmati Corridor Road and Bagmati River. The population has a precarious legal status and faces multiple disaster risk factors. There are no active DRR activities in the settlement.

The community-level survey showed flash floods are the most significant threat, followed by seismic risk and poor sanitation. 83% of respondents have been affected by disasters, including loss or damage to homes, illness, injury, or loss of livelihoods. A lack of awareness and education about disaster risk is reported as a barrier to building resilience. Displaced people also face challenges regarding their legal status and potential eviction by the government. 

Unfortunately, at the time the community survey was being conducted, a flash flood did occur. On 6 September 2021, the Bagmati river burst its bank amidst heavy rain and the drainage system could not cope. At 4am the community were woken by flood water entering their homes (approximately 30% of the houses were affected) and to a submerged settlement. NSET were able to respond quickly, based on their research work with the community. This changed the relationship between community and government, leading to closer contact.

Photo by Alexis rodriguez on Unsplash

In order to strengthen employment skills, NSET staff worked with the Kadambari College and Skill Factory Nepal to provide a vocational training programme for female domestic workers on housekeeping and caregiving.

Disaster risk reduction measures also play a key role in this recipe, with NSET providing both training and infrastructure improvement to enhance the resilience of the community. Training focused on disaster preparedness, emergency response, search and rescue, and fire response. The community also created an evacuation plan and was able to pre-position supplies like fire extinguishers. Action will be sustained by trained personnel and community members. NSET and the community worked together to train volunteers, build capacities and agree on plans to strengthen resilience. The fire response training was found particularly effective – a few weeks after the training a house caught fire and one of the trainees was able to respond quickly to extinguish it.

“Through this training, I got a chance to learn many things like proper hygiene, and caring for small babies, elderly people and people with disabilities. We knew some but this training has taught us a lot. I got a job after taking this training as house help, which indeed has changed my life.”

Ameerah, living in Kathmandu, Nepal

Community infrastructure was highlighted as a key challenge. One particular access road  was in disrepair and susceptible to  flooding. The road was levelled and the drainage system was repaired to prevent future flooding and to provide an evacuation route for the community. NSET worked with the community to design, prepare drawings and estimate labour and material requirements to improve the drainage system; it also assisted the community to raise additional funding for supplies.

Finally, a committee of federal and local government officials, private sector stakeholders, and civil society organisations was formed. Their aim was to institutionalise the engagement of displaced people in DRR and disaster response, and thereby bridge the gap between policy and practice. A task force was also formed that included local government officials, community members, and civil society organisations to help coordinate local efforts and promote the inclusion of displaced people. In addition to a national advisory committee meeting, a national workshop enabled committee members to initiate a dialogue on how to involve displaced communities and to address policy gaps.

“The road was a major improvement to the quality of life of community members, who noted that they are now able to save themselves in case of flooding and that, with improved drainage, the number of mosquitoes and corresponding mosquito-transmitted diseases like dengue and malaria have dropped. In addition, community members cited the fire response and search and rescue training to be key to building the community’s self-sufficiency and ability to respond effectively to emergencies.”

Nisha Shrestha, NSET, Nepal

Established in 1994, The National Society for Earthquake Technology – Nepal (NSET) is a Nepali non-profit organisation working on disaster risk reduction with special focus on earthquake risk management. The vision of NSET is for communities in Nepal to be resilient by 2050. 

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This case study was produced as part of our Making Displacement Safer Cookbook – a resource on addressing DRR challenges faced by displaced communities in urban areas.

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Project funded by

United States Agency for International Development

Our Making Displacement Safer project is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance. Content related to this project on our website was made possible by the support of the USAID. All content is the sole responsibility of GNDR and does not necessarily reflect the views of the USAID.

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