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Participatory Disaster Risk Reduction for Multihazard Decision Making in Nepal: Developing Indicators of Success

Project Description

Kathmandu city is a growing rapidly and located in a multi-hazard environment. Working in collaboration with the GCRF Tomorrow’s Cities Hub this project will examine best practice in disaster risk reduction for decision-making to inform future land use planning for Kathmandu.
Project background
There can be no sustainable development without Disaster Risk Reduction. Natural hazards undermine development and threaten the most vulnerable. The Tomorrow’s Cities Research Hub (www.tomorrowscities.org) aims to bring multi-hazard disaster risk management to the centre of urban policy and practice. This PhD will examine best practice in participatory risk informed decision making for Kathmandu, Nepal.

Participatory risk mapping and modelling aims to bring stakeholders together to share knowledge, collectively make decisions and improve ownership of risk reduction and management. Research to measure success and capture best practice is rare.

Rapid urban growth in Kathmandu requires risk informed land use planning. Yet decision makers and the local community do not engage and uninformed decisions increase future risk and disempower the community. Identifying approaches to support inclusive solutions is vital for sustainable urban growth. This project aims to explore this need in order to develop a series of co-created scenarios, better understand use of participatory modelling to feed improved inclusive land use planning.

Research questions
This project will refine and address the following research questions:

What are multihazard decision support tools/environments?
What are the key requirements and characteristics of risk decision support tools for sustainable land use planning (LUP)?
What is good practice for embedding multihazard disaster risk informed urban planning and decision making in Nepal?
What are the opportunities for community participation within the Nepal LUP process?
Can participatory modelling fulfil the needs of community and decision maker on the ground?
What does success look like for participatory modelling for decision making?
How can you measure the impact of participatory risk modelling for decision making?

This project will examine the effectiveness of participatory risk modelling. It will do this by carrying out action research alongside key partners examining multihazard management decision making for sustainable urban growth in Kathmandu, Nepal.

Using a range of research methods including ethnography, interviews, document analysis and action research Using a range of research methods including ethnography, interviews, document analysis and action research the researcher will first seek to identify the expectations and needs of key stakeholders – including local community members and relevant city decision makers and planners. Secondly, they will run a series of case study based participatory modelling workshops with the aim of examining the multihazard context, identifying key current and future socio-economic vulnerabilities and capacities, an ultimately co-creating a series of risk informed urban growth scenarios. The student will critically examine the participatory methods by comparing stakeholder opinion against expectations, deliverables and expected change on the ground.

The student will examine the value of participatory modelling, identify indicators of success and critically examine the effectiveness of participatory modelling for multihazard risk informed decision making. Additional to academic papers, the research student will deliver practical outcomes for the Kathmandu partners.

Projected applied deliverables:

A framework for measuring the success of participatory modelling approaches for risk management
A refined method for future risk informed decision making in Kathmandu and lessons for the sector
A critical review of participatory modelling for risk informed decision making
A good practice guide for multihazard decision making environments

Funding Notes

We welcome applications from worldwide candidates with an MSc in Earth/Environmental Sciences/GeoSciences/ Human or Physical Geography/International Development and with experience or a desire to work directly with stakeholders in Nepal. Experience using GIS, knowledge of Social Sciences and/or disaster risk and adaptation a plus


Maskrey, S.A., Mount, N.J., Thorne, C.R., and Dryden, I., (2016) Participatory modelling for stakeholder involvement in the development of flood risk management intervention options, Environmental Modelling & Software, Volume 82: 275-294

Sudimeier-Rieux, K., Paleao, U., Garschagen, M., Estrella, M., Remaud, F.G., and Jaboyefoff, M., (2015) Opportunities, incentive and challenges to risk sensitive land use planning: Lessons from Nepal, Spain and Vietnam, International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction, 14: 205-224

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