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A city that's more afraid of tigers than earthquakes

(4 June 2019)

People living in one of Nepal’s biggest cities are more worried about attacks by tigers and rhinos than a repeat of the earthquake that caused devastation a little over four years ago.

The 2015 earthquake and its aftershocks killed almost 9,000 people across Nepal and left hundreds of thousands destitute.

Our researcher, Hanna Ruszczyk, revisited Nepal’s fourth largest city, Bharatpur, and was surprised to hear the views of residents.

They are more concerned with immediate dangers, such as being attacked by wild animals in the forests around their homes, than with the indistinct threat of a natural hazard.

She believes that they have disengaged with disaster planning, placing themselves in danger, because the authorities in Nepal are not effectively listening and engaging with them.

People tend not to worry about things they cannot prevent or control - and so far, local and national governments haven’t done a good job of recognising this, she says.

Dr Ruszczyk has published an opinion article about her research, coinciding with a paper she is publishing as part of the 2019 United Nations’ global assessment report for disaster risk reduction.

She argues that there is ‘nothing natural about disasters’ because people are killed only when they are left exposed to natural hazards, which can be mitigated through safer cities, safer buildings and preparation.

To prevent disasters, residents, municipal authorities and national governments all need to pull in the same direction – especially when budgets are low for disaster planning.

Find out more

Read Dr Ruszczyk’s opinion article

Profile of Dr Ruszczyk

Hazard and Risk is a Research Theme at Durham University

Find out more about the Department of Geography and Institute of Hazard, Risk and Resilience

Find out about undergraduate and postgraduate opportunities in Geography

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