Japan-Nepal Urgent Collaborative Projects

Regarding the April 2015 Nepal earthquake
within the J-RAPID Program

Final report


Title of the Project:”Field Survey and Development of GIS Database on Rural Areas
                                   Affected by the Nepal Earthquake”

Research/Investigation Period:  2015.6 ~ 2016.6

Main Investigators

    Tokyo University of Agriculture, Japan

        Prof. Dr. Machito MIHARA

        Prof. Dr. Sawahiko SHIMADA

        Prof. Dr. Hiromu OKAZAWA

        Assi. Prof. Dr. Ayako SEKIYAMA

        Researcher, Dr. Takashi UENO

        Researcher, Mr. Koji MIWA

    Kathmandu University

        Prof. Dr. Bim Prasad SHRESTHA

        Asso. Prof. Dr. Manish POKHAREL

        Asso. Prof. Dr. Gajendra SHARMA

        Assi. Prof. Dr. Prachand Man PRADHAN

        Research Assistant Sneha SHARMA

        Research Assistant Sujata DHAKAL

Objectives and Challenges

    The research focuses on rural area affected by the earthquake at magnitude 7.6 occurred in Gorkha District, Nepal on April 25, 2015. With this earthquake, 8,799 people died, 22,300 injured, and one third of the total population, more than 8 million suffered from it (National Planning Commission, Government of Nepal, 2015).

    In the research area, Panchkhal District of Kavrepalanchok, located in 48 km southeast of Kathmandu, a number of people suffered the immense damage. As most of people are engaged in agriculture in steep slope areas, living in remote areas, it is concerned about damage on agriculture and secondary or tertiary disasters such as slope failure or destruction of dams. Although the disaster damages were broadcasted and actions are taken quickly in cities, any investigation or supports were slow in rural areas. Facing such issues, there is the strong need to clarify the disaster impact on the rural area and identify safe place to live and resettle for making their sustainable living and livelihood. Thus, this research aims for evaluation of disaster risks based on investigation on agricultural lands and facilities taking into account soil, topography, and vegetation factors.

    The research methods included on-site investigation such as questionnaire survey to the local people and soil sampling, collection of geographical information data, building up GIS database using remote sensing, and analysis of damages in buildings and agricultural land and facilities and soil erosion risks. Finally it evaluated disaster risk based on the statistical analysis based on the collected data. The research objectives are the followings:

1. To understand and analyze the damages on agricultural land and facilities as well
     as buildings through questionnaire survey and GIS analysis

2. To classify the rural areas into suitable land-use type taking account into disaster risks

3. To suggest the Nepalese Government high resilience area to natural disasters

4. To recommend the government a sustainable land-use plan for the rural areas

     The challenge that this research faces is the difficulty to collect accurate data from the research site. As the villages are located in high elevation and remote area from the national highway, the access to several villages are difficult. In addition, the data that the local government has is limited. Therefore, the research requires the long field work to collect the necessary data.

Results of the research/survey activities

1. Contribution to the rehabilitation of the disaster affected areas and the disaster risk reduction management

    This research clarified that there was little damage on agricultural land but immense damage on buildings and barns in Panchkhal of Kavrepalanchok District. It was because agricultural infrastructure is very limited in rural areas in Nepal. Most of the damaged buildings are made of vulnerable materials such as mud, stones or unbaked bricks. The half or partially collapsed buildings are still remained without any measurement and in danger of further collapse in the future. As the result of statistical analysis to identify the factors of building damage, it was indicated that house of damage and elevation are the most influential. In soil erosion risk analysis, it is clarified that the risk has decreased in forest area but increased in residential area and some parts of agricultural land.

From these results, it is suggested not to reclaim land for dwelling or agricultural cultivation. In addition, it is necessary to increase vegetation cover to avoid soil erosion as a disaster risk. Therefore, it suggests that it is necessary to promote the use of more resilient house materials for houses and barns to aim for sustainable agriculture for the locals.

This research is considered to be beneficial to the rural areas to make their rural planning more resilient to the future disasters by considering the soil erosion risk and quality of their house materials.

2. Collaboration between Nepal and Japan

    The research team consisted of researchers from Faculty of Regional Environment Science, Tokyo University of Agriculture (TUA) and Research Center at Institute of Environmental Rehabilitation and Conservation (ERECON) from the Japanese side, and School of Engineering, Kathmandu University (KU) from the Nepali side. TUA team has strong expertise in soil and water conservation, agricultural engineering and GIS. ERECON has strength and rich experience in field survey and rural development. KU team has not only expertise in GIS and agricultural engineering but also knowledge about the research site and network with the governmental ministries and officers. In this way, the team as a whole could complement each other and generate the research output effectively. Through the collaborative work, analysis skills and expertise were exchanged between TUA and KU. In addition, the collaborative research has been continued afterwards for the research on agricultural damage in Kumamoto Earthquake in 2016. TUA and ERECON are also planning to invite young researchers from KU to Japan for the promotion of research exchange.