Nearly 1 billion people live in mountain landscapes worldwide. For many residents of these regions, living with the impacts of multiple hazards in mountainous regions, such as monsoon rainfall, earthquakes and landsliding, is a day-to-day reality. The impacts of these hazards are often exaggerated by systemic risks resulting from socio-political concerns, including fragmented government, rapid population change, and global geopolitical interests. As a result, these hazards have recurring and disproportionate impacts on some of the most vulnerable members of society.
In the Sajag-Nepal project, we examine how to use local knowledge and new interdisciplinary science to inform better decision making and reduce the impacts of multi-hazards in mountain countries. We focus on Nepal, which experiences a range of hazards resulting from earthquakes and monsoon rainfall. Nepal is also undergoing complex social, political, and economic changes as it moves to a federal system of government. Our project is grounded within long-term community-based work with rural residents in Nepal, and reflects their articulations of the need to make better decisions to reduce the risks that they face. It also builds on experience of assessing and planning for earthquake and landslide risk with the Government of Nepal, the United Nations and other humanitarian organisations, and householders themselves.
Critical Disaster Studies
Thinking critically about the social, political, economic, and environmental context within which disasters occur in Nepal
Establishing a new approach to national- and provincial-scale planning for complex multi-hazard events, including those triggered by earthquakes and monsoons
Developing interdisciplinary science to anticipate and communicate the range of hazards that occur during the annual monsoon
Find the best ways to utilise local knowledge and interdisciplinary science to inform how to prepare for and respond to multi-hazard disasters
Integrating Local and Scientific Understandings of the Mountain Hazard Chain
As an ethnographer, I am keenly interested in how local knowledges of landscapes interact with discourses of disaster management and the geophysical sciences to shape everyday life in sites prone to extreme landscape changes resulting from the combined effects of landslides, monsoon rainfall, and seismic activity. I work with members of the Sajag-Nepal team to examine human-environment relations, indigenous knowledges of environment, and disaster governance in four rural municipalities in central and western Nepal. Our ethnographic research informs planning and policy through the Nepal Government and the UN Humanitarian Country Team, and outreach from BBC Media Action Nepal. We work in a participatory manner with many different indigenous and caste communities to elevate their concerns to policy-makers and government, providing platforms to share knowledge through participatory photography exhibits, workshops, and media.