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Project #1: Comparative Assessment of School Building Damage 


Need: On April 25, 2015, a massive M7.6 earthquake struck Western and Central Nepal, with an equally devastating aftershock of M6.8 striking in Central Nepal on May 12, 2015, as measured by Nepal’s National Seismic Centre. According to the Government of Nepal Ministry of Education, more than 27,000 classrooms were fully destroyed by these events, and more than 26,000 classrooms were partially destroyed.


The effects of the earthquake on Nepal’s educational infrastructure offer a rare opportunity to study whether previous interventions to improve building practices, combined with community engagement, have resulted in safer schools and communities. We need to understand two basic questions:


  • How did damage at purportedly disaster-resistant public school buildings, whether retrofitted or newly constructed, compare to damage of typical public school buildings?


  • What affect, if any, did community engagement around safer schools have on risk awareness and community construction practices?


Partners:  Risk RED's Dr. Rebekah Green & Dr. Bishnu Pandey are in Nepal for in-depth assessment of school safety during the summer of 2015. They will be joined by Rob Friedman, former regional adviser to the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance/USAID. They will continue to work with governmental and non-governmental organisations to advocate for safer school reconstruction in the months and years to come. 


Approach: In Bhaktapur, Kathmandu, Rasuwa, and  Sindupalchowk, we compared three, geographically proximal public schools:

  • No intervention — typical construction

  • Technical intervention only— disaster-resistant design or retrofit

  • Technical and social intervention — disaster-resistant design or retrofit, combined with community engagement


At each site, we conducted interviews with school staff and management committees, parents, and lead masons involved in school construction. We also visually assessed school buildings and 15-20 nearby houses for damage.


What’s Next: We are looking to extend this school safety assessment to analyze comprehensive post-disaster rapid damage assessment data and to develop a telephone survey, or a combination of purposive and random sampling of the remaining affected schools, in order to have a clearer picture of the extent of the  problems and potential solutions identified in this study.




Project #2: Causes of Deaths and Injuries in the 2015 Nepal Earthquake


Need: Over 8,000 people died in the Nepal Earthquakes, but as yet, we don't know how. Understanding how people died and were injured will help communities know what they can do to protect themselves in future earthquakes. Right now, protective advice is based upon the few places where causes of deaths and injuries have been well documented -- places like the United States, Japan, New Zealand, Turkey. Nepali communities need advice based upon their own circumstances. 


Partners:  Risk RED is partnering with Save the Children, the National Society for Earthquake Technology-Nepal, the Red Cross-Global Disaster Preparedness Center, and Nepal's Health Research and Social Development Forum (HERD). Marla Petal, of Save the Children, and Sushil Chandra Baral, of HERD, will lead this project.  


Approach: A survey of 2,000 individuals in five of the most damaged districts will be carried out to find out where people were during the earthquake, what protective actions they could take, and what sort of injuries or deaths occurred in their household. 


Output: A report and national workshop for stakeholders in disaster risk reduction and disaster preparedness. A review and revision of national messages telling people how to protective themselves during earthquakes and what to do beforehand to reduce earthquake risks they face. 




Project #3: Games for disaster risk reduction


Coming soon! We're working on partnering with game makers to create a fun way for students and parents to learn how to build and live safely in a beautiful land full of earthquakes, floods, and landslides. 





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