Nepal is a small and landlocked country in South Asia. It is situated between the two large and densely populated countries of Asia – China in the North and India in the South, East, and West. The shape of Nepal is rectangular and it has an area of 147, 181 sq. km. The length (East to West) is 885 km. and the width (North to South) is non-uniform, approximately 193 km. It is situated between longitudes 80°4’E to 88°12’E and latitudes 26°22’N to 30°27’N, along with the Southern slopes of the Himalayas (snow peaks). Within the narrow breadth of the country, all varieties of climate and topography can be found ranging from the sub-tropical to the alpine. The lowest altitude starts from 60 meters above the sea level in the Southern plain to 8, 848 meters in the Northern part. Mt. Everest the highest peak in the world with an altitude of 8,848 meters lies in Nepal. Ecologically, the country is divided into three regions namely; the Tarai, the Hills, and the Mountains.
Nepal is prone to various types of natural disasters due to her rugged and fragile geophysical structure, very high peaks, high angle of slopes, complex geology, variable climatic conditions, active tectonic processes, unplanned settlement, increasing population, weak economic condition, and low literacy rate. Apart from the above reasons, the lack of coordination among agencies related to disaster management, no clear-cut job description of those agencies, resource constraint, the lack of technical manpower, the lack of public awareness, a very remote, rural and difficult geophysical situation of the country, absence of modern technology and so on are other factors are the other major obstacles to cope with the natural disasters in Nepal.
The high Mountains and the Himalayan range of Nepal is the young mountain chain. They stretch almost 2500 km. in the east-west direction and they fall under the seismically active zone which is considered as the result of the seduction of the Indian plate under the Tibetan plate. The seismic record of Nepal goes back to 1255 A.D. Since then a series of destructive earthquakes occurred in 1408 A.D., 1681 A.D., 1810 A.D., 1833 A. D., and 1866 A.D. Among all these earthquakes, the event of 1833 A.D. was the major one. Exact data for that event are not available. After that Nepal passed through a very big earthquake in 1934 A.D. with a tremor of 8.4 Richter scale magnitudes. Kathmandu was the epicenter of the quake. The quake claimed the life of 16,875 people and destroyed 3, 18,139 houses. Nepal experienced two other major earthquakes one in 1980 A.D. and another in 1988 A.D. The earthquake of 1980 A.D. had a tremor of 6.5 Richter scale magnitudes epicenter of which was Bajhang district. In the Quake 178 people lost their lives and about 40 thousand houses were destroyed. The earthquake of 1988 A.D. had a tremor of 6.6 Richter scale with the epicenter in Udayapur district which killed 721 people, 1566 cattle heads and destroyed about 64,467 houses.
The April 2015 Nepal earthquake (also known as the Gorkha earthquake) killed nearly 9,000 people and injured nearly 22,000.6,00,000 houses destroyed and millions of cattle died. It occurred at 11:56 Nepal Standard Time on 25 April, with a magnitude of 7.8Mw or 8.1Ms. Its epicenter was east of the Gorkha District at Barpak, Gorkha, and its hypocenter was at a depth of approximately 8.2 km (5.1 mi). It was the worst natural disaster to strike Nepal since ever before.
Flood, Landslide and Debris Flow
There are more than 6000 rivers and streams in Nepal. Most of them flow from the north towards the south, generally with high velocity due to the high river gradient. Most of the big rivers are snow-fed which originate from the Himalayan range that is covered by perpetual snow. As the topography of the country is a steep, rugged and high-angle slope with complex geology, a very high intensity of rainfall during the monsoon season causes flood, landslide, and debris flow. The landslide and flood are the most destructive types of disasters in Nepal. Three-quarters of the total land area of Nepal is hilly and many villages are situated on or adjacent to the unstable hill slopes. As a result, landslide and flood with debris flow occur. Unplanned settlements and physical constructions without due consideration of the natural hazards are considerably aggravating the mountain environment. On the other hand, the landslide adds enormous load to the streams and rivers causing flood and debris flow downstream. Each year such types of disasters cause the losses of much human life and immense damages to agricultural land, crops, human settlements, and other physical properties.
Fire disaster occurs mainly in the dry season between April to June. During this season the temperature in the Tarai region rises above 35° Celsius and it rains seldom. Fire disaster takes place mostly in the rural areas of the Tarai and the middle Hill region of Nepal. As 90.8 percent of the total population lives in rural areas in very poor housing conditions fire hazards are common. The houses of the rural areas especially of the Tarai areas are usually very close to each other and are made up of straw or reeds and timber which are easily caught by fire
In most cases, the epidemic of cholera, gastroenteritis, encephalitis, meningitis, typhoid, jaundice, malaria and so on occurs during the summer and rainy season. This type of disaster occurs mainly due to the lack of proper health care and sanitation.