skip to primary navigationskip to content

MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Emma Houiellebecq

Urban Resilience in Post-Disaster Recovery: A Case Study on the 2015 Nepal Earthquake

In many developing countries, recent rapid urbanization has far outpaced the planning and provision of adequate infrastructure and services. At the same time, the prevalence and impacts of natural disasters are escalating. Disasters, while tragic in their impacts, tend to be opportunities where vulnerabilities are highlighted and governments can prioritize building back with greater resilience. This dissertation looks at how post-disaster recovery efforts can evaluate and incorporate urban resilience qualities into the long-term planning. The scope of urban resilience in this study focuses on the following infrastructure systems: electricity, water, transportation and communications.
After identifying a need for an evaluation tool to assess urban infrastructure resilience in a post-disaster context, the Post-Disaster Resilience Framework (PDRF) was developed and is presented in this research. The PDRF includes the development of a Hysteretic Resilience Model to provide a theoretical foundation to the framework, and the development of an Infrastructure Dependency Analysis to consider the priorities between infrastructure systems.
The PDRF was applied to a case study to evaluate the urban infrastructure resilience of the Kathmandu Valley following the 2015 Nepal Earthquake. During one month of fieldwork in the Kathmandu Valley, a number of stakeholder interviews were conducted to determine the level of service provided by the infrastructure systems before, after, and since the earthquake, and to identify which resilience indicators were being incorporated into the recovery.
The results of the evaluation indicate the low resilience of the Kathmandu Valley’s infrastructure systems, receiving an overall score of 21%. Within the results for each infrastructure system, weaknesses were highlighted which can be used by the government as a tool to prioritize investments. In addition, the unstable socio-political dynamics of Nepal were seen to have strong influence in impeding efforts to improve infrastructure resilience and causing significant delays in the recovery.