Abstract: Correlates of Sociodemographic Factors and Community Disaster Preparedness in Nuwakot: Lived Experiences from the 2015 Nepal Earthquake (Society for Social Work and Research 27th Annual Conference - Social Work Science and Complex Problems: Battling Inequities + Building Solutions)

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Correlates of Sociodemographic Factors and Community Disaster Preparedness in Nuwakot: Lived Experiences from the 2015 Nepal Earthquake

Saturday, January 14, 2023
Camelback B, 2nd Level (Sheraton Phoenix Downtown)
* noted as presenting author
Smitha Rao, PhD, MSW, MSc, Assistant Professor, Ohio State University, OH
Shambika Raut, MA, Doctoral Student, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Fiona Doherty, MSW, PhD Student, Ohio State University, OH
Arati Maleku, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Ohio State University, Columbus, OH
Background: In 2015, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Nepal killing over 8,000 people and displacing over 2 million more. This catastrophe unveiled gaps in disaster preparedness efforts and exacerbated social vulnerabilities across communities in Nepal. Given the need to better understand how local knowledge, capacity, and vulnerability influence resilience in complex human communities, our study explored the dynamics of perceived vulnerability and resilience assessment based on the lived experiences of earthquake survivors in Nuwakot, one of the most impacted areas in Nepal. Our study examined disaster preparedness based on sociodemographic differences and explored community experiences of disaster and strategies for future preparedness.

Methods: Our community-engaged research project used convergent mixed methods research design to collect quantitative and qualitative data to understand community experiences on disaster impact and the existent support systems and vulnerabilities identified by the community. Using parallel sampling strategies, quantitative data was collected through a community survey using semi-structured interviews (N=93) and qualitative data was collected through a two-hour focus group discussion with key informants (N=15) in Nepali language. Univariate and bivariate analyses were used to analyze survey data to examine correlates between sociographic variables and disaster preparedness. Focus group transcripts were transcribed verbatim and translated from Nepali into English. A two-person research team adept at English and Nepali coded the data manually using inductive coding methods. Thematic analysis was then used to generate overarching thematic connections based on relationships between codes, frequencies, and meaning across codes and categories.

Results: Survey respondents were 44 years on average (Range 17 to 72 years). Majority of the survey respondents comprised of women (61%) and identified with Tamang community (62%), a Tibeto-Ethnic group in Nepal. Sixty-two percent of the sample did not have any formal education, 24% had at least primary education, and only about 9% ha high school education. Findings showed significant relationship between caste groups and religion. Survey respondents who identified with the Brahmin caste group were more likely to receive disaster preparedness information than the Tamang group, X2 (3, N = 90) = 10.35, p <.05. Similarly, respondents practicing Hindu religion were more likely to receive disaster preparedness information than respondents practicing Buddhism, X2 (2, N= 92) = 12.55, p < .05. Four overarching themes that illuminated gaps and vulnerabilities in disaster and post-disaster preparedness strategies in the community emerged from the qualitative data (N=15, Male=11, Female=4): (1) Lack of disaster knowledge and preparedness (2) Physiological insecurities (3) Health vulnerabilities and psychological stressors, and (4) community post-disaster preparedness strategies.

Conclusion: Findings from this study underscore the need for enhanced disaster preparedness information and communication and the need to address the root causes of vulnerability such as caste, poverty, postcolonial politics, and other structural factors. Nepal ranks fourth in the world regarding climate change vulnerability. As climate change leads to an increase in the frequency and intensity of disasters, disaster preparedness efforts must be at the forefront of all development and policy planning in the region.