Disaster preparedness in a complex urban system: the case of Kathmandu Valley, Nepal

Research paper by Samuel Carpenter, François Grünewald

Indexed on: 09 Mar '16Published on: 17 Nov '15Published in: Disasters


The city is a growing centre of humanitarian concern. Yet, aid agencies, governments and donors are only beginning to comprehend the scale and, importantly, the complexity of the humanitarian challenge in urban areas. Using the case study of the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal, this paper examines the analytical utility of recent research on complex urban systems in strengthening scholarly understanding of urban disaster risk management, and outlines its operational relevance to disaster preparedness. Drawing on a literature review and 26 interviews with actors from across the Government of Nepal, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, non‐governmental organisations, United Nations agencies, and at‐risk communities, the study argues that complexity can be seen as a defining feature of urban systems and the risks that confront them. To manage risk in these systems effectively, preparedness efforts must be based on adaptive and agile approaches, incorporating the use of network analysis, partnerships, and new technologies.