Governance struggles and policy processes: A comparison of earthquake risk
reduction in Nepal and Bihar, India
9 December, Monday 1pm-2pm
Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience, Durham University
In this presentation we share some preliminary findings on the national level governance landscape of earthquake risk reduction in Nepal and Bihar State in India. Located along the Himalayan Arc, Nepal and Bihar are both highly susceptible to earthquake hazard and were both affected by the 1934 earthquake. Despite the shared earthquake hazard, and some similarities in terms of ethnic and caste based inequalities and conflict, they have very different political and economic histories. Nepal is emerging from a recent conflict and receives relatively high levels of development aid while Bihar has a strong state system and is now making rapid economic progress after decades of stalled development due to weak governance. They therefore make for an interesting comparison in earthquake risk governance. In-depth interviews with over 40 stakeholders were conducted and focus groups were held to map out stakeholder relationships, interests and challenges of earthquake risk governance.
While Nepal appears ‘further ahead’ in terms of developing earthquake resilience, with considerable emphasis being placed on strengthening lifeline services, infrastructure, retrofitting hospital and schools etc., progress has been achieved primarily through the efforts of INGOs and NGOs with considerable donor support. Nepal lacks a supportive legislative context for DRR and the position of the Disaster Management section within the Ministry of Home Affairs currently gives it little power to mainstream risk reduction across ministries. A UNDP initiative, the Nepal Risk Reduction Consortium, has been instrumental in coordinating DRR efforts in the absence of strong state leadership. In contrast, in Bihar, the state institutional structures and mechanisms for DRR are effective and robust. However, despite ‘having the right people in the right place at the right time’ to make Bihar more earthquake resilient, there is less of a sense of urgency and attention seems to be given at the moment to awareness raising and capacity building with less in the way of visible or tangible gains in building resilience. Furthermore, a powerful construction lobby seems to have generated a reluctance to more strongly enforce building codes, and the state emphasises instead awareness-raising to create higher market-driven demand for earthquake safe buildings.