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Disaster Risks and Community Response: A Case Study from Ilam, Nepal
1  Himalayan College of Agricultural Sciences and Technology (HICAST), Purbanchal University


A field study was conducted in six Village Development Committees (VDCs) of Ilam district to identify common disasters linked with climate change and people’s response mechanisms to those disasters in farming communities. Altogether 300 randomly selected households facing different disaster problems were interviewed using structured and semi-structured questionnaire, which was supplemented by direct observation, time line analysis, key informant interview and focus group discussion. In addition, secondary data was collected from District Agriculture Development Office (DADO), Ilam, Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) and Nepal Red Cross Society (NRCS) Ilam. Farmers’ perceptions and reviewed literature revealed that flood, landslide, drought, insect pests, hailstorm, and fire comprise major disaster risk, and they have been affecting agriculture, livelihood, physical infrastructure, and properties for years. It was found that different types of loss such as, landslides has following risks and impacts: wash away of land (45% families) and crops (90%), property loss (10%), loss of physical resources (50%), effects on water resources (69%), loss of livestock (5%), forest degradation (72%) and loss of human live (3%), risks and impacts of flood, drought and fire have also been presented in this study. It was also unraveled that local communities adopt different mitigation measures for different disasters including afforestation, check dam construction, awareness creation, contour farming, relocation, shed reconstruction, construction of plastic ponds, and conservation of local varieties (different frequencies for different measures). Social network has played important role in mitigating disaster risks. People get help from government (38% families) and non-government (50% families) organizations, friends (22%), neighbors (44%) and relatives (20%) in the forms of loan (18%), helping hands or physical support (77%), information (62%) and basic need materials (48%) to manage or respond disaster risks. The paper suggests that local mitigation measures need to be supplemented by more sustainable solutions to make the efforts sustainable, which requires local level integrated planning and coordinated efforts.

Keywords: disaster risk reduction; agriculture; livelihood resources; adaptation; sustainable development