IJMED Special Issue
The forthcoming "Special Issue on the Nepal Earthquake" (also known as the Ghorka earthquake) in the International Journal of Mass Emergencies & Disasters was compiled by Guest Editor and former DRC postdoc, Sarah DeYoung (now an Assistant Professor in the Institute for Disaster Management at the University of Georgia). Daryl Yoder-Bontrager and Samantha Penta, both DRC graduate students, served as Editorial Assistants for the Issue. The final papers selected for the Special Issue include a range of issues that analyze the social, political, and cultural aspects the response, relief, and recovery of the Ghorka Earthquake.
An upcoming article featured in the IJMED Special Issue reports findings from the Disaster Research Center’s quick response field work in Nepal conducted at the end of May and early June following the April 25, 2015 earthquake. We place our findings in conversation with the existing body of disaster research, highlighting where our findings were consistent with existing literature and pointing to areas in which the findings indicated a need for further exploration. In the article, we focus on four themes that emerged in the data: shifts in organizational activity and structure, psychosocial well-being of people affected by the earthquake, varying definitions of who qualified as a victim, and the roles of chronological and social time in the response and recovery.
We encountered organizations with transitions in activities and organizational structure representing the different organizational types identified in the DRC typology, but found that which category organizations fell into changed with time, as did the reasons for this transition. Our conversations with responders and affected persons revealed a widespread perceived need for psychosocial services, a feature of the post-earthquake environment that featured in a larger conversation regarding the definition of earthquake victims, which was in turn linked to the distribution of aid through conflicting ideas of who constituted ‘deserving’ recipients. The importance of time intersected with all of these themes, as both chronological time and social time were important for both the people we spoke with and ourselves as researchers in understanding the consequences of and responses to the earthquake. There is a need for more research in understanding coordination between organizations, the development and implementation of psychosocial support programs, and the role of caste in shaping response and recovery activity. Further, we advocate for additional examination of how social time shapes post-disaster experiences and activity, as well as how researchers’ concepts of time affect their analyses.