Multi-hazards, displacement and vulnerability: Their links to reconstruction policies in post-earthquake Nepal

  • Kerstin Guillamón Martín

Student thesis: Phd


In countries where extreme seismic and severe weather events are frequent, understanding people’s vulnerability to multi-hazards and post-emergency practices in post-earthquake settings is crucial for adequate formulation and implementation of reconstruction policies. This thesis critically examines people’s exposure to and experience with geological, meteorological and human-made hazards before, during and in the aftermath of the 2015 Mw7.8 Gorkha, Nepal earthquake to comprehend localised multi-hazard risks, the interaction between hazards, and seasonality. The thesis sheds light on the policies that emerged after the earthquake and their implementation, and the practicality of resettlement and other reconstruction efforts as perceived by local people. A qualitative mixed methods approach comprising 60 semi-structured interviews, three focus groups, and two photo-elicitation workshops, was used from June until October 2018. Participants included scientists, government officials, humanitarians and individuals at their original locations, displaced, or in temporary settlements in Rasuwa, Nuwakot and Kathmandu district. The thesis shows the importance of revisiting terminologies in order to identify additional and/or distinctive criteria needed in a definition of multi-hazards, that could help academic and policy makers in clarifying and agreeing on the use of a concept of multi-hazards. So far, the conceptualisation and operationalisation of multi-hazards has neglected both to formulate clear guidelines on how to assess compound hazards risks after an earthquake, and to address how to anticipate multi-hazards during post-earthquake reconstruction policies. Critical concerns about intertwined relationships between natural hazards, disasters and human activities and the way people’s vulnerabilities are amplified by new hazards - sometimes arising from policy and project implementation during reconstruction - have been less considered. Findings show that interactions between hazards are not well understood and sufficiently considered at policy level, and loopholes in the assessment of hazards need to be addressed. It is argued that opportunities are needed for communities to discuss their perceptions and experiences of localised multi-hazards with experts. This would enable reconstruction efforts to be informed by vulnerabilities of individuals and society, and expand understanding of people’s risk tolerance. Finally, the thesis suggests the importance of exploring alternative multi-hazard risk assessments in rural and urban settlements in Nepal as part of disaster-risk management policies and resettlement policy reforms.
Date of Award1 Aug 2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorPhilip Woodhouse (Supervisor) & Alfredo Stein Heinemann (Supervisor)


  • displacement
  • reconstruction practices
  • vulnerability
  • policy gaps
  • multi-hazards
  • resettlement
  • risk assessment

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