Gorkha Earthquake: Recovery Challenges in a Fluid Terrain,

ISET Working Paper #1

Authors: Ajaya Dixit, Anustha Shrestha, Ashutosh Shukla, Bishnu Lakhe, Fawad Khan, Galit Sorokin, Kanmani Venkateswaran, Ken MacClune, Rabi Wenju, Rajani Maharjan, Shobha Yadav

On April 25, 2015, a major earthquake of magnitude 7.6 on the Richter scale struck central Nepal. The epicenter of the earthquake was in Barpak, located in the Gorkha district, and hence it was named Gorkha Earthquake. The earthquake impacted 31 districts in central Nepal, of which 14 districts suffered the worst damages. Total losses have been estimated at NPR 706,461 million. The latest statistics from government sources indicate that 8,789 people were killed and about 22,300 were injured. Property losses were extensive, withan estimated NPR 83,800 million needed for the reconstruction of damaged infrastructures and livelihoods over a five-year period. Overall, the earthquake directly affected more than 8 million people, many of whom were left without shelters, livelihoods, and/ or access to basic services. When indirect impacts on national productivity and economy are taken into account, losses are much higher.

As one of the least developed countries, Nepal faces serious threats from various disasters, which occur with an appalling regularity. The country’s vulnerability to disasters stems from both natural and human induced factors.

The Gorkha earthquake is an opportunity to harness lessons and implement a recovery strategy that not only ensures that the Nepalese are able to bounce back from this disaster, but also sets the stage for building resilience to help reduce the impacts of future disasters. It is no secret that the recovery from the Gorkha Earthquake has been wrought with challenges. The scale of the earthquake was massiveand produced major ruptures across Nepal’s socio-economic fabric, including its communities, the development sector, and its administrative and political institutions. Within this context, there is a need to create an enabling environment for moving recovery processes forward and integrating resilience into recovery.

In this report, we present Nepal’s post-earthquake recovery landscape, locating recovery in the context of the country’s ongoing political dynamics. We review the institutional structure for recovery and reconstruction, as envisaged by the National Reconstruction Authority (NRA). We also describe the aspirations of affected individuals and families. This allows us to understand the enabling environment for resilient recovery and reconstruction. Next, we discuss the ways in which resilience can be translated into actual recovery, reconstruction, and overall development. We find that one of the best ways to do this is to build a community of knowledge on resilient recovery. Finally, we provide final observations on future challenges.


Dixit, A., Khan, F., Lake, B., MacClune, K., Maharjan, R., Shrestha, A., Shukla, A., Sorokin, G., Venkateswaran, K., Wenju, R., Yadav, S. (2017). Gorkha Earthquake: Recovery Challenges in a Fluid Terrain. Boulder, CO: ISET- International.

Funded by:

The Rockefeller Foundation


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