Landslide in Nepal: Link between development, disaster and climate

  • By Chiara Ambrosino, iDE UK
  • 17/08/2015

Community member standing on the site of a major landslide in Lumle, Kaski, Nepal on 30th July/ Photo: Balkrishna Thapa Magar/iDE Nepal


In Sendai, in March 2015, during the 3rd World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR), the panel of South Asian experts agreed that it no longer makes sense to plan, invest in and/or implement disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation initiatives separately. The former is essential to support the latter. The Anukulan BRACED project in Nepal is working to address exactly what the experts at Sendai were talking about: linking DRR and climate change initiatives.

The Anukulan project creates mechanisms which bring together local commissions responsible for DRR and climate adaptation. The intention is to create synergy at the planning level and to mobilise resources.

We intend to use our learning to develop national level endorsement for coordinated and harmonised Local Adaptation Plans (LAPA) and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) development. The goal is to significantly increase the efficiency and effectiveness of climate change and disaster risk reduction planning, resulting in local Nepalese communities that have increased capacity to adapt to climate shocks, stresses and disasters.

The Anukuluan project has been already working with the Nepalese communities in the wake of the earthquake, and its subsequent aftershocks, which struck Nepal on 25 April 2015. Recently as well, with the early start of the monsoon season, heavy rainfalls have triggered landslides across the country, possibly accelerated by the previous and current seismic activity, causing additional fatalities.

The current situation and response is that people, already weakened by the earthquake, are now forced out of their homes or provisional shelters, with likelihood of contagious diseases increasing. In Lumle, Kaski district, where iDE has been working for several years, a hillside crumbled and slid downstream destroying thirteen households killing 29 people, of which twelve were children. iDE’s team in Nepal has been busy providing initial and immediate support to the community through provision of plastic sheets, blankets, utensils and foods. A team of experts is also currently assessing the impacts on other landslide sites.

What could the response have been from the development and humanitarian sectors, and the communities themselves, if DRR and climate change adaptation initiatives had already been jointly planned, invested in and implemented? In the future hopefully, we’ll find out.

For now, these landslides reminds us that with roughly 80% of disasters being climate-related, future unpredictable climate means that we have to build resilience into our development interventions.

While during the WCDRR conference emphasis was made on development investments which were disaster-risks informed, the recognition that an additional priority should be given on the links between future climate change scenarios and risk assessments and maps at all scales will ensure development is also climate-informed.

As we have been learning first-hand in Nepal, once disaster risk and climate risk become  central concerns of the development sector, rather than just the humanitarian sector, we can ensure that the communities we work with can become more resilient.

Chiara Ambrosino is the Anukulan BRACED Climate Change Adaptation Programme Manager at iDE UK.

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