Indigenous communities in disaster resilience: Lessons from Newar communities in Nepal’s earthquake recovery

Ms Ayusha Bajracharya1, Mr Krishna  Shrestha1, Ms Eileen  Baldry1, Mr Anthony Zwi1

1University of New South Wales, Kensington, Australia


Disasters such as earthquakes have become frequent and building community resilience is now a pressing issue.  The current approach of ‘building back better’ is elusive as disaster policies and practices are usually driven by scientific knowledge, with little attention given to indigenous knowledge and resilience building practices.  The paper shares a framework of research that aims to examine how indigenous communities experience and manage disaster recovery practices, focusing on the practices of indigenous women in the aftermath of Nepal’s earthquakes in 2015.  Drawing on some literature review and preliminary reflections of two visits of two Newar communities in Kathmandu affected by the earthquakes, the paper highlights three major issues: a) the global and national disaster management frameworks and policies have failed to recognise indigenous communities and knowledge, b) indigenous women’s experiences and struggles are largely ignored in the disaster recovery programs; and c) Shared Learning Dialogues (SLDs) seems to be more appropriate research method to learn from indigenous communities.  The paper concludes by highlighting the need for an engaged research to recognise indigenous knowledge as central so that deeper insights are obtained for inclusive disaster resilience.


Ayusha Bajracharya is a Scientia PhD Scholar in the School of Social Sciences at the University of New South Wales (UNSW) Sydney, Australia.  Her research interest includes critical development studies, disaster governance, and indigenous communities.


The Institute of Australian Geographers (IAG) is the principal body representing geographers and promoting the study and application of geography in Australia. It was founded in 1958 and since then has promoted, supported and defended Australian geography.

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