Dr Katie Oven
Landslides are one of the most destructive geological processes, resulting in major loss of life and economic damage. Globally, data suggests that the number of landslide disasters and landslide related fatalities are increasing with time, a trend largely ascribed to human and social factors rather than to changes in physical systems. A similar pattern of landslide occurrence has been observed within the dynamic mountain environment of Nepal which lies in a tectonically active zone, characterised by high relative relief, differential uplift and monsoon rainfall. In addition to the physical characteristics, Nepal is classified as a low-income developing country and a low human development nation. This raises a series of questions regarding community risk and vulnerability to natural hazards, which at present are poorly understood.
My PhD research takes an interdisciplinary and holistic approach to analysing landslide risk and vulnerability within the dynamic mountain environment of Central Nepal. Using a range of data collection techniques to identify the terrain units at risk and to establish the actual rates of slope deformation, data will be analysed in relation to local knowledge of slope instability and perceptions of hazard and risk gathered during interview and focus group sessions. The social element of the research will aim to compare the variation in these perceptions to issues of poverty, social structure and the resultant community vulnerability.