The role of scientific evidence during the 2015 Nepal earthquake relief efforts

Research reports and studies
February 2018
Ajoy Datta, Shailendra Sigdel, Katie Oven, Nick Rosser, Alexander Densmore and Samin Rijal

This report explores the challenges associated with acquiring and using scientific evidence during a disaster response, focusing on the 2015 Gorkha earthquakes in Nepal.

It examines the extent to which scientific information was used during the diaster response and sets out the key actors involved in the response effort, their information needs and how these were communicated to scientists and other knowledge providers. The paper also explores how scientific information was produced and the methods by which it was shared. 

The authors make a series of recommendations and highlight the need for:

  • the building of longer-term relationships between disaster managers and scientists before sudden-onset disasters (such as those caused by earthquakes) occur
  • scientists to form a group and identify a focal person to facilitate coordination with government, disaster risk reduction (DRR) and humanitarian actors
  • the United Nations (UN) to appoint a science officer at a regional level, possibly through the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, who could ensure that the recommendations here are followed through
  • donor agencies to consider funding a science officer, periodic science for disaster response fora (at national, regional and global levels) to improve connections between relevant stakeholders, and the production and sharing of good practice stories
  • DRR managers to identify, produce, archive and regularly update secondary datasets to help disaster managers make quick estimates of damage, loss and associated needs immediately after a disaster.