Nepal 2015 Earthquake: A Rapid Assessment of Cultural, Psychological and Social Factors with Implications for Recovery and Disaster Preparedness

November 2016 (VOL. 34, NO. 3)

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Approximately one month after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, an interdisciplinary team visited several affected districts to conduct a rapid assessment of community impact. Over the course of 8 days, two social scientists with the team collected information from 80 community members about cultural, psychological and social factors with implications for rebuilding and future disaster preparedness. Results from the rapid assessment highlight perspectives from community members on the following topics: disaster attributions, psychological distress, preferred means of coping, social support, community conflicts, livelihood impacts with implications for well-being, and concerns with governance and corruption that may undermine hopes for recovery- providing a snapshot of the situation in the early aftermath of the earthquake. Qualitative data derived from conversations with community members and other in-country stakeholders is interpreted in light of the current social-political context in Nepal. Results are situated within a larger body of disaster research literature, including work on earthquake impacts and recovery. Suggestions are made for future research to further examine factors highlighted in this initial assessment.