‘Expert Knowledge and Expertise in the Aftermath of April 2015 Nepal Earthquake’
Two major Nepal earthquakes in 2015 not only killed nearly 9,000 people but also caused massive damages in physical infrastructures, about 800,000 private houses and 6,278 government buildings. For the purpose of post-earthquake reconstruction within the notion of ‘Build-Back-Better’, Government of Nepal formed various forms of institutions, laws and policies and technical expertise. The National Reconstruction Authority (NRA) was formed in August 13, 2015 in coordination with relevant government ministries and numerous partner organizations (POs). As part of this post-earthquake reconstruction, NRA trained various engineers, sub-engineers, supervisors, field engineers and masons with the aim to produce technical human resources to assist the private housing reconstruction. Alongside, NRA has also deployed trained engineers circulating of new forms of expertise and large numbers of experts in rural areas of Nepal. Much of this flurry of activities centres on the profession of engineering—its forms of knowledge, technical practices and its personnel. Given this context, based on several months’ ethnographic work in Bhaktapur, Dhading and Sindhupalchowk in 2018, this paper seeks to understand how “expertise” in the form of professional engineering practice is deployed on the ground and in so doing, the paper also explores how the contemporary state with all its attendant institutions emerge as potent forces in people’s everyday lives (Harvey and Knox, 2015: 4) and how this disaster governance (cited in Tierney, 2012: 344) is navigated by the local people, not as passive beneficiaries but as active agents in the face of reconstruction activities. In so doing, the paper will also shed light on the grounded experiences of various actors as they go about their “re-construction” activities.