KORE - Knowledge Sharing Platform on Resilience

What matters for households' recovery trajectories following the Gorkha earthquake?

A two-year panel study
©Ezra Millstein

In April 2015, a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, killing over 9,000 people, destroying or badly damaging more than 800,000 homes and displacing approximately 2.8 million people.

Where shocks like earthquakes cannot easily be prevented, strengthening the ability to prepare, respond and recover is critical to maintaining development gains in spite of them.

In an effort to better understand what factors mattered most for households’ recovery and future resilience, Mercy Corps followed the same group of households across 26 earthquake-affected communities 10 weeks, one year and two years after the Gorkha earthquake. 

The research aims to improve humanitarian response and design of recovery programmes in the aftermath of acute disasters in order to better meet communities’ future needs.

Key findings from the two-year study include:

  • A single major disaster can be a catalyst for increased fragility;
  • Factors that help households in the immediate aftermath of a shock may not sustain longer-term recovery;
  • Formal lending consistently helps households cope better and recover better;
  • Bolstering key resilience capacities over time allows households to cope in the short-term and achieve long-term recovery.

Key recommendations include: 

  • Support disaster-affected households with an integrated package of resilience interventions, including formal savings and loans, household risk awareness and planning and social capital to speed and strengthen recovery and build a more resilient future;
  • Ensure humanitarian actors are prepared to alleviate suffering in the short-term, while working with government and communities to identify and manage future risks;
  • Bolster timely and nimble relief efforts that provide aid within seven days and quickly pivot to building longer-term resilience capacities for rapid recovery.

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