Nepal and the Disaster-Conflict Interface
In April 2015 massive earthquake hit Nepal causing large-scale destruction of the country’s infrastructure about 8000 casualties. Even two years later, the impact of the earthquake is still affecting the lives of people in the Himalayan country. The earthquake hit a country that was already stricken by poverty and was in the midst of the transition from war to peace after a 10 year civil war (1996-2006) between the Government and Maoists. Ten years after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) the political transformation process from a monarchy to a republican political system is still underway and a number of conflict issues remain unresolved. Nepal’s society is not only polarised politically, but also fragmented into various ethnic and caste groups. Apart from socio-economic conflicts the question of a possible federal set-up of the country continues causing tensions. But also geopolitical factors such as the dependence on India and the competition between the big rivals, India and China, impact on Nepal’s economy and politics, posing challenges to Nepal’s stability. Weak state structures, competition, on-going conflicts and the interference of various (international) actors hinder a speedy reconstruction of the country, exacerbating already existing and giving rise to new conflicts. This interplay between a natural disaster and conflict – the so-called Disaster-Conflict-Interface- is considered both by scholars and practitioners as one of the biggest challenges for countries in the Global South.
By focussing on the specific case of Nepal, we want to analyse and discuss the Disaster-Conflict Interface. After a preparation period in Germany during the winter term 2017/18, we will conduct our qualitative research during a two-week excursion to Nepal in February 2018 and in Cooperation with other students from Kathmandu University. This involves expert meetings and discussions with different actors (international, national, local and affected population) and conducting qualitative interviews. Following questions will be addressed in the course and will guide the research projects:
- Which conflict issues can be observed?
- How do natural disasters and conflicts impact on each other?
- What are the causes of these conflicts?
- Which actors are involved?
- What strategies may support the peaceful resolution of these conflicts?
After the two weeks excursion during which data collection takes place, we will analyse and interpret the data in Germany. Findings will be presented at the OVGU and publication of results is envisaged.