ICIMOD Earthquake Brief

29 May 2015

ICIMOD continued to coordinate and rally the broad regional and international teams in the ongoing post-disaster reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts of the Government of Nepal. The ICIMOD Task Force on Geo-hazards continued to map and assess hazards created by landslides, rock falls, and avalanches in the aftermath of the two earthquakes of 25 April and 12 May 2015.

Among others, ICIMOD coordinated teams from the Governments of India (Indian Space Research Organization – ISRO), China (Chinese Academy of Sciences), and Nepal, as well as other bodies like the National Aerospace and Space Administration (NASA), the University of Arizona, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Esri, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Digital Globe, Disaster Charter, and the US Geological Survey (USGS). 

The maps and reports developed by ICIMOD are available on the Centre’s website: www.icimod.org/nepalearthquake2015. You are welcome to download the maps and other information including stories from our website for your research and other purposes.

Disaster Relief and Recovery Information Platform

  • The Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA) and the National Planning Commission, Government of Nepal, in close collaboration with ICIMOD, and with technical support from Environmental System Research Institute (Esri) has developed the ‘Nepal Earthquake 2015: Disaster Relief and Recovery Information Platform (DRRIP)’.
  • The DRRIP acts as a unified information hub with regional and global partners including space agencies, UN organizations and International Charter, donor agencies, academic and research organizations, relief organizations, local NGOs, private sector organizations, and the civil society. 
  • With support from key partners, ICIMOD is providing technical support to coordinate and integrate relevant data and information from multiple sources to the Government. These include high resolution satellite imageries, ancillary and field level data including crowdsourced information with mobile devices, high resolution aerial imagery sourced from the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle missions, as well as the data sourced from the social media and the Internet.

Geo-hazard Assessment

  • The Government of Nepal formed an expert group consisting of various ministries and departments, including experts from ICIMOD, to undertake a ‘Rapid Reconnaissance Survey’ of the earthquake-affected districts. The 18 teams that comprise the Expert Group will visit six high priority districts – Dolakha, Rasuwa, Nuwakot, Dhading, Sindhupalchowk, and Gorkha – to evaluate the potential of rehabilitation, resettlement and relocation of human settlements, and assess landslide risk to human settlements in view of the impending monsoon rains. The whole assignment is expected to be completed in two weeks resulting in a report that will be submitted to the Government.
  • Given ICIMOD’s continuing role in providing information for disaster response, satellite imageries services, and geo-hazard assessment, the Government of Nepal requested ICIMOD to provide technical and logistics support, and be the base for the Expert Group. 
  • The first Expert Group meeting was held on 18 May at 10 am at ICIMOD to prepare an implementation plan. 
  • ICIMOD has been requested to be a knowledge partner for Earthquake Technology and Resistant Building Exhibition to be held in late June and Citizen’s Conference on Nepal Earthquake 2015 to be held in late July.
  • ICIMOD continued to provide maps of affected areas to both Government and non-Government agencies to support their relief and rehabilitation efforts. As of 22 May, about 100 maps and information products were provided to various institutions and individuals including the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers.
  • ICIMOD collaborated with an international team of scientists to evaluate the hazards that contributed to Langtang Valley’s post-earthquake disaster and is also working to identify the area’s current conditions and potential future hazards. 
  • The initial report by the team suggests that the 25 April 2015 earthquake triggered part of a hanging glacier in the Langtang Lirung and Langtang II mountains above the valley to become unhinged and collide into the mountain below, prompting an avalanche of snow, ice, and rock material. In addition, analysis also suggests that a destructive pressure wave accompanied the avalanche in certain parts of the valley. As a result, the valley’s eight highest villages – Thyangshyup, Tsarding, Chamki, Gumba, Langtang, Mundu, Singdum, and Kyangjing – were damaged or completely destroyed.  
  • As aftershocks continue and the monsoon season begins, the possibility of more avalanches and landslides remains. Therefore, ICIMOD will continue to monitor the conditions of the upper Langtang Valley as post-earthquake recovery gets underway. 

Reconstruction and Rehabilitation

In consultation with the Government of Nepal, ICIMOD is exploring efforts in reconstruction and rehabilitation reaching out to areas where it has worked or is working with communities through its projects and pilots. The key components would cover an integrated approach to housing, restoring public infrastructure, water supply and sanitation, livelihood, natural resource management, gender, governance, and knowledge management. 

  • ICIMOD is linking partners with organizations and private companies who might want to help with the reconstruction. ICIMOD will focus on its core strength and try to leverage resources from the private sector/corporate social responsibility activities and partner agencies. 
  • ICIMOD and its partner Center for Environmental and Agricultural Policy Research, Extension and Development (CEAPRED) developed a quick Assessment Report on loss and damage in selected Climate Smart Village (CSV) pilot sites. On average, more than 60% of the houses were found damaged and uninhabitable. Loss of agriculture and livestock also seemed significant. 
  • ICIMOD’s intervention in the CSVs will particularly focus in the areas of vegetable production green houses, urine-based biopesticide production (Jholmol), waste water harvesting ponds, and other areas related to agriculture and natural resource management. 
  • Based on the Assessment Report, ICIMOD is developing an approach paper for possible rehabilitation and support to CSV technologies. 
  • In the coming days, ICIMOD will look at providing medium-term rehabilitation, with particular focus on community building.

Visits

  • On Sunday 17 May, Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Home Affairs Bam Dev Gautam visited ICIMOD and made a request for rapid hazard assessment of earthquake affected mountain settlements for rehabilitation that need urgent attention in the face of impending monsoon rains. 
  • On Monday May 18, Nepal’s Former Prime Minister Babu Ram Bhattarai visited ICIMOD to learn about ICIMOD’s ongoing efforts on disaster response.
  • On Monday May 18, some members of Nepal Mountaineering Association, led by Ang Tshering Sherpa, the President of the Association, visited ICIMOD in relation to mountain communities’ concerns regarding potential glacial lake outburst floods.

Dr Roger Bilham, Professor, Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado,  USA talks on “Scientific Findings from the 2015 Nepal Earthquake” on 21 May 2015 at ICIMOD

Photo: Jitendra Raj Bajracharya/ICIMOD

  • On Thursday 21 May, Professor Dr Roger Bilham of Department of Geological Sciences, University of Colorado-Boulder, USA, delivered an eye-opening talk on ‘Scientific Findings from the 2015 Nepal Earthquake’ as part of the Centre’s Knowledge Platform series.  Here is the link to a video of Dr Roger Bilham’s presentation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zHLg5HeecQ8
    For more information on Dr Roger Bilham’s work, you may visit: http://cires1.colorado.edu/~bilham/.
  • On Friday 22 May, Nepal’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Federal Affairs and Local Development Prakash Man Singh visited ICIMOD to learn about ICIMOD’s support to the post-earthquake response.  
  • On Sunday May 24, Nepal’s Minister of Urban Development Narayan Khadka visited ICIMOD. Also on the same day, the Vice Chairperson of the National Planning Commission and ICIMOD’s Board of Director, Dr Govinda Pokarel, visited ICIMOD to learn about the Centre’s post-earthquake response.
  • Besides, an increasing number of departments from various Government ministries, UN organizations, donor agencies, universities and academic institutions, civil society organizations, and interested private sector organizations are paying visit to ICIMOD to learn about the Centre’s ongoing efforts on earthquake disaster response.