Annual Report 2015: 2015 Gorkha earthquake response

Research Work Proves Resilient As It Restarts after Quake 

The earthquake struck at the heart of ICIMOD’s working areas in Nepal. It wrecked research stations, decimated villages where ICIMOD has worked for years, and forced staff, partners and stakeholders to put aside projects to respond to the overwhelming immediate needs. Deep knowledge of quake-hit areas and extensive personal contacts enabled the people of ICIMOD to make a strong impact in the weeks and months immediately after the disaster, often working around the clock to support relief and recovery efforts.

Ultimately, though, it was time to assess the damage to research sites and determine how to return to work. For instance, ICIMOD has been conducting glaciological, meteorological, and hydrological fieldwork in Langtang Valley, where the earthquake triggered an avalanche that buried Langtang village and flattened buildings for miles around with an air blast packing half the force of an atom bomb. The blast damaged some of ICIMOD’s 12 meteorological and hydrological stations in the area, including in Kyanging Gompa, a threehour walk from Langtang village, and a weather station by Yala Glacier. Five meteorological stations were destroyed by the 200-mile-an-hour air blast, one was toppled, one was buried, and a hydrological station was damaged.

ICIMOD proved its resiliency. By the end of the year, ICIMOD had repaired broken weather stations, replaced broken sensors and solar panels, and continued its scientific work by conducting surveys of surface height change of the debriscovered Langtang and Lirung glaciers. 

In other areas of Nepal, working closely with communities in project areas, ICIMOD restarted its activities with an additional focus on leveraging previous efforts to strengthen mountain communities’ ability to rebound from the impacts of the earthquake.

ICIMOD was deploying its expertise to understand what had happened and forge ahead with the research that had been interrupted and was now, in many cases, more important than ever.