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CBDRM in Nepal: a matter of risk perceptions

Maria Risom Laursen (Copenhagen, Denmark)

International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment

ISSN: 1759-5908

Article publication date: 9 February 2015




This paper aims to explore how different risk perceptions of experts, institutions and laymen have to be taken into consideration if non-governmental organizations and donors want to include the community in disaster risk reduction. Otherwise, community-based disaster risk management will not be community-based.


This research is based on an intensive literature review, as well as a four-month felt study in Kathmandu (November 2011-February 2012). This study explores, from a social constructive point of view, the relationship among international, national and local actors in the effort to conduct disaster risk reduction in Nepal through a community-based approach.


The Kathmandu Valley is at risk of being hit by an earthquake at anytime. If an earthquake hits, it will cause total devastation. Although the Nepalese are aware of the risks of a potential earthquake, very few have begun preparations. The author finds that the lack of preparation is partly caused by different risk perceptions among experts, institutions and laymen.


Involving the community in disaster risk reduction today is widely accepted as the right way to work with disaster risk reduction. But, rarely the question is made: are we really involving the community by taking their risk perception serious, and not just accepting the risk perceptions from experts and institutions of science as being the right way to perceive disaster risk. The author finds that there is a tendency to ignore the community in community-based earthquake preparedness in Nepal.



The author would like to thank the employees at NSET for giving an insight into their work and for their participation and wonderful help during the research. They are deeply committed to their work and to the goal of making Nepal an earthquake-safe country. Furthermore, the author extends gratitude to all the helpful and wonderful people and inhabitants of Nepal she met during her time in Kathmandu. The author also thanks Karen for editorial help.


Laursen, M.R. (2015), "CBDRM in Nepal: a matter of risk perceptions", International Journal of Disaster Resilience in the Built Environment, Vol. 6 No. 1, pp. 73-85.



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