Heidelberg University

The Gorkha Earthquake 2015

Background on the crisis (Source: UN OCHA Situation Reports)

On 25 April (11:56, UTC+5:45), a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal with the epicenter located 81 km northwest of the capital city of Kathmandu. The earthquake severely impacted 13 out of the 75 districts in the country, left more than 8,500 people dead and destroyed almost 900,000 buildings. Hundreds of aftershocks have been reported including a 6.7 magnitude earthquake. With the severe devastation of the disaster, the Government of Nepal requested for international humanitarian support to the UN Resident Coordinator on 26 April. UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination teams were immediately deployed to support the Government and the Office of the Resident Coordinator. On 29 April, the Humanitarian Country Team launched a Flash Appeal seeking $415 million to provide life-saving assistance and protection for millions of people affected by the earthquake. To enable humanitarian partners to scale up the response, the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC) approved a $15 million grant from the Central Emergency Response Fund. The Resident Coordinator was also designated as the Humanitarian Coordinator for Nepal.

A detailed description

of the earthquake mechanism, tectonic setting and seismic hazard; as well as modelled aftershocks, death toll, and economic losses are published in the first CEDIM Forensic Disaster Analysis (FDA) report with contribution from SAI/Geography (as of 27th April, 8pm.
Link to the document and further information also at the Earth System Knowledge Platform (www.eskp.de/en/hom).

Forensic Disaster Analysis

the CEDIM Forensic Disaster Analysis (FDA) approach seeks to analyise disasters as they unfold and contextualize them with socio-economic analysis.

The first FDA report has been launched only two days after the event.

While a consecutive second FDA report on the shelter situation was released on the 5th May 2015.

The third FDA report can be found here (as of 12th May, 4pm).

The main output of the Forensic Disaster Analysis (FDA) Follow up mission to Nepal is compiled in the report on 'Emerging issues of sheltering in Nepal'.
All these reports have been compiled with contribution from SAI/Dept. of Geography.

Further updates, site reports and official informations can be found at:

Research at the South Asia Institute

Internal Displaced Persons and Shelter Provision

J.Anhorn, B.Khazai & M. Nüsser

In the year 2013, the SAI, Department of Geography startet to work on earthquake, risk and resilience in Nepal (project description). Together with the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Center for Disaster Management and Risk Reduction Technology (CEDIM) The research team developed an integrative framework to assess disaster risk in Nepal using indicators and qualitative information.
The latest publication in Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS) specifically addressed the challenging issue of shelter allocation in large-scale disasters with a case study of Kathmandu Metropolitan City.
With the Open Space Suitability Index, available green space within a city can be assessed regarding its overall suitability to be used as immediate shelter. The index considers an accessibility metrix and qualitative suitability factors.

The second CEDIM/SAI Forensic Disaster Analysis report highlights post-disaster shelter (as of 5th May).
The fourth CEDIM/SAI Forensic Disaster Analysis report following a reconnaissance mission analyses shelter vulnerability and emergent issues in temporary and intermediate shelters (as of July 2015).

Also see the featured article on Shelter in Kathmandu at the Earth System Knowledge Platform (ESKP).



People are putting immediate shelter next to their unsafe buildings (V.Flörchinger, 27th April 2015)


In the first days, most of the spontaneous shelter lack sanitation. People go for daily "runs" to get food and water (V.Flörchinger, 27th April 2015).

Research Group 'Water and Disaster Risk Scapes in Nepal'

J.Anhorn, V.Flörchinger, M.Nüsser & S.Schelhorn

Access to safe drinking water is of utmost importance in large scale humanitarian crisis. In order to satisfy live-saving water, sanitation and health needs vulnerable communities need strong coping mechanisms. If and to what extent the affected local communities can aid themselves largely depends on existing disaster risk awareness, socio-economic status, as well as legal and institutional capacities. Furthermore the inappropriate use of contaminated water often leads to water borne diseases like diarrhoea, putting initial ‘survivors’ again in jeopardy. Thus disasters often reveal these existing conditions of resilience. Local communities’ resilience is often reflected in ad-hoc coping strategies. Nevertheless pre-developed emergency response strategies ensuring access to safe water or contingency plans help to recover. In addition, the city already faces difficulties under "normal conditions" regarding food, energy and water supply, mainly due to rapid population growth and haphazard urbanization.
Based on a case study approach, the research aimed to investigate the resilience to water stress of local dwellers in Kathmandu after earthquakes. Field work was conducted immediately before the actual earthquake in March and April 2015.
Current earthquake-scenarios estimate the break-down of the available water supply system. It is now important to get a clear picture on how local institutions and communities actually deal with water stress due to scarcity but also how they perceive and prepared for the earthquake threat through potential fall-back plans to access clean drinking water. A special emphasis was given to the links between institutional and local response capacities and local peoples diverse risk perception in the light of earthquake impact scenarios.
With the onset of the April 2015 earthquake, the pre-event research will be contrasted by evidence from the field.

The research group is preparing a report on water issues related to the earthquake event.



Related Publications

  • KHAZAI, B., ANHORN, J., BRINK, S., GIRARD, T., JIMEE, G.K., PARAJULI, B., WAGLE, S., KHANAL, O., SHRESTHA, S. & R. MANADHAR (2015): Emergent issues and vulnerability factors in temporary and intermediate shelters following the 2015 Nepal Earthquake. Forensic Disaster Analysis (FDA) Report 4, CEDIM, SAI and NSET. Online available.
  • DANIELL, J.E., SCHMIDT, H.-M., SCHÄFER, A., HOECHNER, A., GIRARD, T., BRINK, S., KUNZ-PLAPP, T., MÜHR, B., DITTRICH, A., VERVAECK, A., WENZEL, F., ANHORN, J., FLÖRCHINGER, V., STRADER, A., SCHORLEMMER, D., BEUTIN, T., FANSELOW, F., KUNZ, M., TRIESELMANN, W., GOURRAUD, C. & F. BENDIMERAD (2015): Nepal Earthquakes - Report #3, Forensic Disaster Analysis (FDA) Situation Report, CEDIM. Online available.
  • KHAZAI, B., ANHORN, J., GIRARD, T., BRINK, S., DANIELL, J. E., BESSEL, T., MÜHR, B., FLÖRCHINGER, V. & T., KUNZ-PLAPP (2015): Shelter response and vulnerability of displaced populations in the April 25, 2015 Nepal Earthquake. Forensic Disaster Analysis (FDA) Report 2, CEDIM and SAI. Online available.
  • DANIELL, J. E., VERVAECK, A., WENZEL, F., KHAZAI, B., BRINK, S., KUNZ-PLAPP, T., ANHORN, J., FLÖRCHINGER, V., SCHÄFER, A., HOECHNER, A., SCHMIDT, H.-M., BESSEL, T., MÜHR, B., DITTRICH, A., GIRARD, T., ROBLES, C., SKAPSKI, J.-U., KUNZ, M. and W. TRIESELMANN (2015): Nepal Earthquake - Report #1, Forensic Disaster Analysis (FDA) Situation Report, CEDIM and SAI. Online available.
  • ANHORN, J. & B. KHAZAI (2015): Open space suitability analysis for emergency shelter after an earthquake, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci., 15, 789-803, DOI:10.5194/nhess-15-789-2015.
  • ANHORN, J., BURTON, C., & B. KHAZAI (2014): A monitoring & evaluation tool to engage local stakeholders, On-line Proceedings of the Resilience Cities 2014 Congress, Article 2. Available at http://resilient-cities.iclei.org/resilient-cities-hub-site/congress-publications/on-line-proceedings-2014. DOI:10.13140/2.1.4717.6967.
  • ANHORN, J. & B. KHAZAI (2014): Open space suitability analysis for emergency shelter after an earthquake, Nat. Hazards Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., 2(6), 4263–4297, DOI:10.5194/nhessd-2-4263-2014.

  • Vulnerable building structures in dynamic urban settings
    (J. Anhorn, 2012).

      Cooperation