Social Capital and Natural Disaster: Local Responses to 2015 Earthquake in Kathmandu

November 2016 (VOL. 34, NO. 3)

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Catastrophic natural disasters often require rapid community mobilization to meet local needs. . This study uses social capital to explore how indigenous Newar communities in Kathmandu responded to the 2015 Nepal earthquake. Data from thirty-three semi-structured interviews with local Newar inhabitants, and secondary sources, form the basis of analysis. Newari prosocial behaviors learned through living in communal neighborhoods, experiences of working for community welfare through cultural Guthi systems, spiritual strength drawn from ancestors and their proud heritage, and the community’s high level of equanimity facilitated disaster responses in a positive way. The study provides insights on how social capital among ethnic groups like the Newar influence community responses to natural disasters.