Trauma, Victims, Time, Changing Organizations and the Nepal 2015 Earthquake

November 2016 (VOL. 34, NO. 3)

Download this article

This paper summarizes findings from reconnaissance fieldwork conducted five weeks after the Nepal earthquake in 2015. Data were collected using an exploratory, qualitative, semi-inductive approach. Themes converged through classic disaster research theoretical ideas but were also evident through the unique convergence of globalization and development in Nepal. Findings from informal conversations, photographs, and observations of relief and recovery efforts revealed several key themes: the occurrence of organizational transitions in activities and tasks, psychosocial well-being of Nepalese individuals and communities, issues in qualifying the definition of an earthquake victim, and the importance of chronological and social time in recovery processes. Other findings gleaned from fieldwork included uncovering complexities of cultural and social systems such as caste structure in Nepal, issues related to humanitarian logistics, and the vulnerability of special populations such as new mothers and migrant Nepalese. The massive presence of international non-profit organizations created an interesting setting for relief and recovery, mostly described in the section on organization evolutions and transformation. Finally, we also encountered various perceptions about what it means to shift from “relief” to “recovery”- a notion which intersected with all of the four main themes from our findings.