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Disasters, Conflicts and Migration

Nepal's geographical location exposes it to extreme precipitation, seismic activities and landslides.

Natural Hazards



Comments / Details



Western Nepal has experienced consecutive and worsening winter drought conditions since 2000, culminating in a severe drought episode during 2008/09.

In order to better understand the unpredictable nature of droughts ICIMOD has initiated National agricultural drought watch, a web portal to track data.



Nepal has experienced significant seismic events in the past, major being the 1934 earthquake (Epicenter-Bihar, India of 8 magnitude), the 1988 earthquake (Epicenter-Nepal and India Border, of 6.9 magnitude), the 1980 earthquake Bajhang, and the 2015 April earthquake (Epicenter-Gorkha, Nepal of 7.6 magnitude). Historically, there has been dangerous seismic activity every 70 to 100 years in Nepal. Use of scenario ensembles for deriving seismic risk research carried out by the Department of Geography at Durham University shows that the most at-risk districts are in rural western Nepal. The accepted worst-case scenario is that a large earthquake with magnitude of 8.6 would cause most damage in the Western provinces of Nepal. This is projected to cause up to 10,000 deaths, 25,000 people injured, and leave 800,000 homes destroyed according to Shelter Cluster Nepal Contingency plan for the coordination of Shelter Preparedness and Response in Nepal.



Malaria, cholera, and gastroenteritis are endemic in all regions of the country. During the rainy season, the possibility of breakouts of all three disease is very high. The largest cholera outbreak, with more than 30,000 people affected, was in the Western Nepal in 2009.

Sporadic incidence of dengue was first recorded in 2004 in different regions of Nepal. Since then, cases of dengue have risen drastically especially in last 5 years. The total confirmed cases of dengue recorded in 2019 by Epidemiology Disease Control Division Nepal is 14662 which is 9740 more recorded cases than recorded cases previous 5 years.

(Source: The alarming outbreaks of dengue in Nepal)

On 24th March 2020, country-wide lockdown was imposed in order to combat the transference of the coronavirus. The update on the information on COVID-19 diseases in the nation and its response can be found in the website setup by Ministry of Health and Population. The update can also be observed from website.

Extreme Temperatures


Due to the extreme elevation changes within Nepal, there are major temperature differences. The plains of Terai bordering India, can experience very high temperatures up to 46°C in May and down to 7°C in January. Average temperatures in Nepal drop 6°C for every 1,000m gained in altitude.

Heat waves from May to July, cold waves during November to January affects the daily lives of people in the plain lands of Terai region. Also, a constant thick fog during November-January in the plain lands of Terai regularly obstruct flights and road transport. During cold waves, vulnerable and disadvantaged population in the plain lands of Terai suffer from cold-related diseases (cold, flu and pneumonia) in large numbers and cold wave related deaths increase. 



More than 6,000 rivers and rivulets flowing from north to south pose a varying degree of threat across the nation. Koshi in the east, Narayani in central, and Karnali and Mahakali in the west are perennial rivers who swell during the months of monsoon (June-September) and cause damage in river basins along their path. The problem of flooding and inundation is an annual risk during the monsoon and its impact on life and economy is always high. In June-August 2017, more than half of the 77 districts of Nepal were impacted by floods and landslides triggered by heavy monsoon rains. Over 1.7 million people were affected (with some 160 persons losing their lives), and 43,000 houses were destroyed.


Insect infestation


Insect infestations are rare in Nepal (as of now). The first recorded incidence of locusts entering Nepal was in 1962 and then in 1996. Towards the end of June 2020, some swarms were seen in the fields of the central plains of Terai region.



Landslides are a frequent natural hazard in the hilly regions of Nepal. Both natural and human induced landslides due to steep slopes, fragile geology, high intensity of rainfall, deforestation, unplanned settlements and roads are the major causes of landslide. The hilly districts of Nepal located in the Siwalik, Mahabharat range, Mid-land, and fore and higher Himalayas are more susceptible to landslide

Volcanic eruptions



High waves / surges





A major hazard besides floods in the plain lands of Terai region is seasonal wildfire and fire in communities during the dry season (March-May). Wildfire poses major threat to forests of Nepal. The worst forest fire in recent times was recorded in 2009 when 49 people died in Ramechhap district. Some 268,618 hectares of forest cover across the country were lost to forest fires during the months of January-May in 2016. They occur mostly in the forests of mid-hills and some events are recorded in the plain lands of Terai on a regular basis during dry season.

High winds


High wind with lightning and hailstone is seasonal hazard that occur during March, April and May (pre monsoon events) in some areas of plain lands of Terai region leading to loss of life, livestock and agriculture crops. In April 2019 a tornado caused 29 death and 1985 houses damaged in Bara and Parsa districts in Province 2.

Lightning strikesYes

Lightning and thunderbolt related casualties are high in Nepal. Nepal tops the list of countries with the most lightning fatalities per unit area. The cases of lightning related casualties are overlooked because they tend to be isolated events with relatively small number of casualties.

(Source: The Kathmandu Post)

Other comments


Man-Made Issues

Civil Strife


The federalisation process of Nepal into 7 provinces saw a fair amount of discontent, protests and strikes (Bandh) in Province 2. Small groups are still active in Province 2 but the influence of those active groups is gradually decreasing after an agreement made by the Alliance for Independent Madesh (AIM) with the Nepal Government in 2019.

The Nepal Communist Party (Biplav Maoists), a defected armed group formed by dissatisfaction towards the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) in 2014, engages in racketeering, bomb threats and armed activities against the government. Their political arm frequently calls for political strikes, or bandhs, as part of their protest. 

International Conflict


On 20th May 2020, Nepal released new political and administrative map which included disputed territories of Kalapani, Lipulekh and Limipiydhura in Northwest Nepal, which are claimed by both Nepal and India. India inaugurated a new road in the disputed region in May 2020 and Nepal’s updated map has put a strain on the relationship between the two countries.

Internally Displaced Persons


After the earthquake of 2015, many people have been forced to leave their homes and in 2020 many are still living in IDP sites in several districts. The internal displacement monitoring centre tracks the number of IDPs (Country Information – Nepal).

Refugees Present


In the early 1990s, more than 108,000 refugees from Bhutan – approximately 20% of Bhutan's population arrived in Nepal and started living in camps run by the United Nations’ Refugee Agency (UNHCR). Currently approximately 21,000 refugees are originating from Bhutan, 20,000 from Tibet and approximately 650 refugees and asylum seeker in Kathmandu. Nepal offers asylum to a considerable number of refugees, although it is not a signatory of the 1951 Refugee Convention. (Source: UNHCR Nepal Regional Profile)

Landmines / UXO Present


Nepal was declared free from landmines and unexploded ordnance in June 2012 (Source: The Guardian)

Other Comments


Link: Risk Profile of Nepal

For a more detailed database on disasters in the nation, please see the Nepal Disaster Risk Reduction Portal

Seasonal Effects on Logistics Capacities

Climate and Weather

Nepal's climate ranges from sub-tropical to arctic depending upon the altitude. The plain lands of Terai region has a hot and humid climate. The mid-hill region is pleasant almost the year-round although winter nights are cool. The northern mountainous region, around an altitude 3,353 m and above, has an alpine climate with considerably lower temperatures in winter. 

Monsoon: The monsoon of Nepal creates two distinct wet and dry seasons. Wet days of summer are monsoon days. Most of the rainfall in Nepal occurs during the monsoon in summer, with the rest of the year being dry.

Summer: Summer, which is May to August, is the hottest season in Nepal. Hot but dry days are more comfortable than monsoon days which are hot and humid. 

Autumn: Autumn, from September to November, begins with the end of monsoon season and ends with beginning of winter in November. It is also a festival season. 

Winter: Winter is from November through February. Winter days are dry with few rains. A typical day in the Kathmandu valley in winter season is as warm as 20° C on a sunny day but night temperatures fall below freezing. Western Nepal has more rain than Eastern Nepal in the winter.

Spring: Spring, from February to April, begins with occasional showers and rain. The days are mild and can be a little hazy if there are no showers for a long period.


Seasonal Effects on Transport

Transport Type

Time Frame

Comments / Details

Primary Road Transport


The 1,027.67 km long Mahendra Highway, the longest highway in Nepal, runs across the plain lands of Terai region from east to west of the country. The highway is mostly single lane in each direction although it is the busiest highway. The overflowing rivers damage bridges beyond repair every now and then and even if they could be repaired, the repair work halts the traffic.   

Secondary Road Transport


The Postal Highway in plain lands of Terai, Middle Hill Highway in Hills, and other local and urban roads in both plain lands of Terai and Hills which comprises secondary road transport are connected to main highways. Landslides and poor road conditions are a major problem for the secondary roads. Heavy rains cause numerous landslides and cut off remote areas during the monsoon. The economic impact of this is huge as farmlands, houses and pastures can be inaccessible or are lost.

Rail Transport

All Seasons

Nepal has two railway lines in the country: the Raxaul, India–Sirsiya, Inland Container Depot (or dry port/ICD) near Birgunj and the Jainagar–Janakpur. The first one is primarily used for freight transport. The second railway is for passenger transport and it is not operational currently.

Air Transport

July- August; October-January 

Flooding and low visibility often render airports inaccessible, especially during the monsoon and winter season in the plain lands of Terai and during afternoon in the mountains. Inadequate infrastructure and absence of Instrument Landing Systems (ILS) limit the use of these airports during fogs and overcast weather and heavy wind conditions.

Waterway Transport




Seasonal Effects on Storage and Handling

Activity Type

Time Frame

Comments / Details


June - September

Lack of essential goods can become a major issue during the monsoon season when certain roads are impassable due to landslides. In hill and mountainous areas, it’s advisable to pre-position goods in anticipation of road obstructions. A lack of organized, dedicated warehousing facilities in the country is a logistics challenge. Temporary arrangements can be made by using residential houses for storage


June -September

The same holds true for handling and importation of goods during monsoon season. There is a potential need to preposition commodities due to potential constraints of transport and handling operations due to rain or non-availability of transport.

Import and customs clearance

October/November (Birgunj), December-April (Kolkata)

Congestion at Birgunj

The congestion at Birgunj Customs happens randomly as a result of government’s regulatory action for example inspection for under-invoicing. Importers are reluctant to clear their cargo in the fear to pay more than they expected. Also, during the major festival season in October/November ports and customs points tend to get busier.

Congestion at Kolkata Port

Congestion at Kolkata port can be caused by congestions in Nepali dry ports, mainly Birgunj. In case of prolonged delays in containers not being emptied and returned, this can suddenly congest the port in Kolkata if they receive backlogged containers all at once. Also isolated issues like restrictions imposed by local government bodies on goods vehicle movement congests Kolkata dry port however these events are not seasonal. Haldia Dock System (HDC) at Port of Kolkota is not a deep water-port, which compels deep water vessels to tranship cargo in smaller feeder vessels in Singapore before it can be send to Kolkota. Thus, a larger number of smaller vessels entering the ports increases the chance of congestion. Also due to low water level, which reduces maximum draught and therefor load capacity per ship, during December to April, Kolkata port tends to be congested.

Capacity and Contacts for In-Country Emergency Response


The lead ministry for disaster mitigation and response is the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA). The Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Act of 2017 along with the Local Government Operation Act (LGOA) of 2017 provides the framework for all levels of government to work together on disaster risk reduction and response.

The DRRM Act of 2017 has designated the National Council for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NCDRRM) under chairmanship of the Prime Minister as the apex body. There is an executive committee to implement policies and plans formulated by the council, chaired by the Home Minister. A National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA) is set-up to operate under the MOHA.

After the Government of Nepal determines the level of emergency and makes a decision to appeal for international support or not, the Onsite Operation and Coordination Centre (OSOCC) is activated to coordinate with the international community. Similarly, the Multinational Military Coordination Centre is activated through the Nepal Army Crisis Management Centre (NACRIMAC) to coordinate with Multinational Military (MN Military) and with search and rescue groups (SAR) of Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force. See the national disaster response mechanism below:


The constitution of Nepal mandated the Nepal Army (NA) to mobilize to respond to any disaster situation. The Nepal Police (NP) and Armed Police Force (APF) are also mandated by law to respond to any disaster situation, primarily and most importantly for search and rescue in the first critical hours.

For government contact details, please see the following link: 4.1 Government Contact List. 

Humanitarian Community

There are 129 INGOs and 19 UN agencies present in Nepal. The Government of Nepal recognizes the important roles UN, INGOs and national NGOs play in disaster reduction and emergency response and has incorporated them into the overall planning and response process.  The humanitarian coordination architecture in Nepal is led-by the Government of Nepal via 11 clusters plus formal inter-cluster working groups on information management, community engagement (accountability to affected populations), cash, and gender in humanitarian action.

Under the guidance of the Resident Coordinator, the Humanitarian Country Team (HCT) is responsible for the implementation of the international community’s inter-agency disaster preparedness and response activities in Nepal. The HCT Principals consists of representatives of the UN, Cluster Co-leads agencies, representatives from the Association of International NGOs and the Red Cross movement  sits at senior levels and sets the strategic direction for the support to Nepal’s humanitarian ecosystem. Key donor partners are included members of the HCT in Nepal to strengthen coordination and information sharing, and to facilitate resource mobilization.

In accordance with the direction of the HCT Principals, Cluster Co-leads and humanitarian partners ensure a coordinated response at working-level via the Operational HCT coordination platform. This enables operational engagement of the humanitarian community with the Government of Nepal, the private sector and local NGOs.

Under the leadership of the UN Resident Coordinator, the HCT established the Provincial Coordination Focal Point Agencies (PCFPA) to enable coordinated preparedness and response at sub-national level. (Source:

Humanitarian clusters’ leads and Co-leads

 Agency Co-lead




Camp coordination and camp management cluster

Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD)

UNICEF / Save the Children

Education in emergencies sector

Center for Education and human Resource Center (MoEST)


Emergency Shelter Cluster

Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC)


Emergency Telecommunications sector

Ministry of Communication and Information Technology (MoCIT)


Food Security sector

Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development ( MoALD)


Health Cluster

Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP)

Agriculture / LivestockMinistry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD)


Logistics Sector

Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA)


Nutrition Sector

Department of Health Services (DoHS)


Protection Sector

Department of Women and Children (DoWC)


Child Protection sub-sector


Gender-based violence sub-sector


Water, Sanitation & Hygiene Cluster

Ministry of Women, Children & Social Welfare (MoWCSW)


Early Recovery Cluster

Ministry of Federal Affairs and General Administration (MoFAGA)


For humanitarian agency contact details, please see the following link: 4.2 Humanitarian Agency Contact List.