A disaster brings changes in the ecosystem, community or population structure, physical environment, and cultural phenomena of the society. The Gorkha earthquake of 7.8 Richter on 25 April 2015 and its aftershocks caused huge loss and damages, including human casualties in Kathmandu district. This paper examine how social structure in the community influenced people’s experiences and coping strategies to rebuild and resettle in aftermath of the 2015 Gorkha earthquake following a theoretical model of behavioural and organizational response of Oliver-Smith’s (1996)[1]. This paper will provide insights policymakers and researchers to understand how people belonging to different socioeconomic strata rebuilt their lives and livelihoods and help to develop strategies for unforeseen disaster in the future. 

This study was based on three months long (April-June 2016) ethnographic research in peri-urban locality at the northern part of Kathmandu district. Both primary and secondary data were collected for this study. During the study period, the researcher lived with the earthquake victims in their temporary shelters to understand their experiences and daily lives through observations, experiences. Further, in-depth interviews with sample households, key informant interviews and informal discussion with representatives of government officials and different community-based organisations were conducted for data collection. 

The earthquake had partly or severely damaged houses of the people in the study area and deemed uninhabitable. Therefore, they were forced out of their houses to live in temporary shelters. Despite losses and destruction, the sense of unity, harmony and tolerance had developed among the people. The study found that the existing kinship and social relationships were elemental in fostering people’s sense of unity. With their own initiatives and external supports, local community restored normalcy in their everyday lived conditions. Relief distribution had played an important role in rebuilding locals’ lives. However, the effectiveness of the relief materials and resilience patterns were perceived differently based on economic class and ethnicity of people in the community.

Keywords: class, community, earthquake, resilience, victims


[1] Oliver-Smith, A. (1996). Anthropological research on hazards and disasters. Annual Review of Anthropology, 25(1), 303–328. -328. http://www.jstor.org/stable/2155829