Nepal - 1.1 Humanitarian Background

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

Disasters, Conflicts and Migration 

Natural Disasters 



Comments / Details 



In 1994, Nepal witnessed the worst drought in its history that affected 35 districts of western hilly and plain lands of Terai regions. Western Nepal has experienced consecutive and worsening winter drought conditions since 2000, culminating in a severe drought episode during 2008/09 



Nepal lies in one of the most seismically active regions of the world and has a long history of seismic events in the past, major being the 1934 Bihar-Nepal earthquake (8 magnitude), the 1988 Nepal earthquake (6.9 magnitude), and the 2015 Gorkha earthquake (7.8 magnitude). On 3 November 2023, at local time 23:47 hrs, a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, with an epicentre in Jajarkot district of Karnali Province. 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. 



Malaria, Cholera and gastroenteritis are endemic in all regions of the country. During the rainy season, the possibility of breakouts of all three diseases 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, the total confirmed cases of dengue in 2022 were 54,784 with 88 deaths. As of 7 Aug 2023, the Epidemiology and Disease Control Division of the Ministry of Health and Population, Nepal has recorded 9411 confirmed cases of dengue, Sunsari district of Koshi Province is highly affected this year with 5041 confirmed cases. (Situation-updates-7-August-2023.pdf ( 



The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on Nepal, leading to 12,031 reported deaths. To control the virus’s spread, the government instituted a nationwide lockdown for five months starting from March 24, 2020, and another two-month lockdown beginning on April 29, 2021. While the spread of the virus is now under control, few cases of a new variant of the coronavirus, JN.1, have been reported in early 2024. 

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 the 2023 monsoon period, 92 people lost their lives in natural disaster-related incidents across the country. Similarly, 30 people have gone missing, and 168 sustained injuries in such incidents. 

(Source: ( 

Insect Infestation 


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 higher Himalayas are more susceptible to landslide  

Volcanic Eruptions 



High Waves / Surges 





A major hazard risk, besides flood, in plain lands of Terai region is seasonal wildfire and fire in community 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, including 13 Nepal Army personnel, died in Ramechhap district while fighting wildfire. Wildfires 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. 

A total of 1,816 incidents of forest fire were reported in 2023, a dramatic increase of 76.5% as compared to the previous year. 

Source: New fire risk system for Nepal - SERVIR-HKH ( 

High Winds 


High winds with lightning and hailstone are seasonal hazards that occur during March, April, and May (pre-monsoon events) leading to loss of life, livestock, and agriculture crops.  On 31 March 2019 a tornado caused 29 death and 1985 houses damaged in Bara and Parsa districts in Madhesh Province.  

Lightning Strikes 


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 a relatively small number of casualties. 

(Source: ReliefWeb

Other Comments 

Heat waves from May to July, Cold waves during November to January affects daily lives of people in plain lands of Terai region. Also, a constant thick fog during November-January in plain lands of Terai regularly obstructs 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.  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)  

Man-Made Issues 

Civil Strife 


The general situation in the country remains relatively calm. However, in recent months some street protests involving religious groups were reported in different cities of Nepal. The district administration office had imposed curfews to bring the situation under control. 

International Conflict 


Nepal has maintained amicable relations with its neighbours and other nations. However, the border dispute with India has remained unresolved in Susta and Kalapani regions.  

Internally Displaced Persons 


The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) data estimates around 93000 persons were internally displaced in Nepal in 2022. The figure refers mostly to internal displacements triggered by floods during the monsoon season and the 6.3 magnitude Doti earthquake in November 2022. 

Source: ( 

Refugees Present 


Nepal currently hosts around 20,000 refugees, including those from Tibet, Bhutan, and other states. The main arrivals of refugees took place in 1959 with an influx from Tibet, and again in 1990/1991 with an influx from Bhutan. 

Between 2007 and 2016 more than 113,500 Bhutanese refugees were resettled to eight different countries. 

Source: Nepal | UNHCR 

Landmines / UXO Present 


Nepal was declared free from landmines and unexploded ordnance in June 2011 (Source: UNDP

Other Comments 



For a more detailed database on disasters in the nation, please see the  National Distater Risk Reduction and Management Authority ( 

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 have a hot and humid climate, the average temperature in summer is 40°C and 7° in winter. The mid-hill region is pleasant almost the year-round, in summer the average temperature is 28°C while in winter the average temperature is 7°C during day and falls below freezing at night. The northern mountainous region, at an altitude 3,353 m and above, has an alpine climate with considerably lower temperatures up to -18°C in winter and -2°C in summer.  

In 2023, because of El Nino, Nepal during the summer received 11% less rainfall, reducing the agricultural production, mainly paddy. El Nino is continuing and expected that it remains still stronger till April 2024.  

Monsoon: The monsoon (June to September) 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 (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 (September to November), begins with the end of the monsoon season and ends with beginning of winter in November. It is also a festival season.  

Winter: Winter (November through February) days are dry with few rains. A typical day in the Kathmandu valley in the winter season is as warm as 20° C on a sunny day but night temperatures fall below freezing. 

Spring: Spring (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. 

Air Quality: The air quality in Nepal is average, but it tends to get worse when there is less or no rainfall, the average Air Quality Index (AQI) for Nepal in 2022 was 112, which is considered unhealthy for sensitive groups. 



Seasonal Effects on Transport 

Transport Type 

Time Frame 

Comments / Details 

Primary Road Transport 



The national highway in the country Mahendra Highway runs across the Plain lands of Terai region from east to west of the country. The highway, which is 1,028 kilometres in length is mostly single lane in each direction. Bridges and crossings along the highway are regularly damaged because of seasonal monsoon floods.  

Secondary Road Transport 



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 

The only passenger train service in Nepal is operated by Nepal Railway between Jainagar in India to Bhangaha (Dhanusa) in Nepal (Madesh Province). It covers 52 KM between the two stations.   

Nepal also has two other rail connectivity with India that are used for cargo transport. A 6 KM long broad-gauge track connects Indian town of Raxaul to Birgunj ICD in Nepal and an eight KM track connects Bathnaha of India to Biratnagar ICD in Nepal. (Ref: 2.4 Nepal Railway Assessment) 


Air Transport 

July- August; October-January   


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

Tribhuvan International Airport in Kathmandu and Gautam Buddha International Airport in Bhairahawa can accommodate large aircrafts (A330 types). Pokhara International Airport is suitable for narrow body aircrafts (A320 types).  

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 

Frequent rain slows down handling work during the monsoon season.  

Import, Customs clearance 





Congestion at Birgunj. Customs clearance certificates are usually issued to cargo only after 6:00pm from Birgunj Customs office. The cargo truck which enter ICP in the daytime have to hold until 6pm for exiting the customs office premises. This leads to congestion at the gate and ICP premises throughout the day. Also, importers who do not have their warehouses outside of the ICP premises tend to delay the customs clearance procedures in order to tranship their cargo from truck to truck without having to store their goods in a warehouse and pay additional charges (warehouse charge if store in ICP warehouse). Therefore, the parking bay is full most of the time. The exit road is also congested due to trucks standing in queue for the whole day until six pm. These are the factors causing congestion at the ICP. 

The lack of funds available to importers to pay the tariff for immediate imported goods and they take time to manages fund also leads to congestion at dry ports and ICPs. 

Earlier, one gate was operational and now two gates are in operation, one is for containers and the other for bagged containers of iron, steel, loose cargo, and coal, causing congestion at the exit point. 

During COVID-19, only medical goods were imported into Nepal in containers and there were no export goods. Medical supplies were delivered to across the country and empty containers returned to ICD and filled open space, but no steps were taken to dispatch the empty container from the ICD area. The train does not come only to carry that empty container. There is no one to bear the cost and there is no goods to be exported using these containers. This is also another cause of container congestion in the dry port. 

An area of 10000 sqm is under construction process for the Customs Inspection section. Also, during the major festival season in October/November ports and customs points tend to get busier due to high imports for the festivities. 

Congestion at Kolkata Port. Kolkata port can process an average of 107,842 TEU per month or 3,595 per day. However, this may vary depending on the season, weather, and other factors. However, congestion at Kolkata port can be caused by congestion in Nepali dry ports due to backlog containers. Due to the lack of rakes, the surging volume of imported goods during the festive season, and the reluctance of the Container Corporation to add the required number of racks to deliver imported goods on time. 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 congest Kolkata dry port however these events are not seasonal. Haldia Dock System (HDC) at the Port of Kolkota is not a deep water port, which compels deep water vessels to tranship cargo in smaller feeder vessels in Singapore / Sri Lanka before it can be sent to Kolkota. Thus, a larger number of smaller vessels entering the ports increases the chance of congestion. Also due to the low water level, which reduces maximum draught and therefore load capacity per ship, from December to April, Kolkata port tends to be congested. 


Capacity and Contacts for In-Country Emergency Response 


The lead ministry for disaster preparedness and response at the federal level is the Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA), within which operates the Disaster Preparedness and Response Section (NEOC). Whereas, at the provincial level the lead ministries are the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Law of the province, within which operates the Provincial Emergency Operation Center (PEOC) at the provincial level and the District Emergency Operation Center (DEOC) at the district level. A National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority (NDRRMA) is set-up to operate under the MOHA. The main responsibility of NDRRMA is to operate and manage activities related to disaster management in an effective manner. 


In 1982 the Natural Disaster Relief Act (NDRA) was formulated which was superseded by the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (DRRM) Act, 2017. The DRRM Act along with Local Government Operation Act (LGOA) 2017 provides the framework for all levels of government to work together on disaster risk reduction and response. The DRRM Act, 2017 has designated the National Council for Disaster Risk Reduction and Management (NCDRRM) under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister to discharge disaster-related functions effectively. There is an executive committee to implement policies and plans formulated by the council, chaired by the Home Minister.  




Diagram: National disaster response mechanism without Foreign Support 


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. 

National Framework for Disaster Response  

1. Upon the receipt of disaster/potential disaster information from the districts or local level, the following lead agencies shall carry out the operational activities.  

2. CNDRC, RDRC and DDRC shall organize an emergency meeting in coordination with Government agencies, International and national NGOs as per the need.  

3. Emergency operation centers at national, provinicial, district and municipality level shall coordinate with different relevant organizations to make disaster response activities effective.  

4. Within the respective mandate and scope, the following relevant organizations including the Disaster Management Division of MoHA, shall work as support agencies in disaster response management:   CNDRC members; Ministry of Finance, Foreign Affairs, Defense, Health and Population, Federal Affairs and Local Development, Agricultural Development; NHRC; Social Welfare Council; Department of Immigration, Waterborne Disaster Control, Health Service, Livestock, Hydrology and Meteorology, Road, Urban Development and Building Construction, Drug Management; National Seismological Centre; Waste Management Centre; National Trauma Centre; Nepalese Army; Nepal Police; Armed Police Force; Fire Brigade Office; Search and Rescue Team, RDRC/DDRC; DDCs; Local level Government Offices; Civil Aviation Authority; Nepal Food Corporation; and other concerned Ministries, Departments and Governmental and Non-Governmental Organization. UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator and UN agencies (UNDP, UNICEF, WHO, WFP, FAO, UNFPA, UNOCHA, IOM, UNHABITAT, UNHCR, UNDSS); relevant Clusters; multinational Organizations; ICIMOD; Diplomatic Missions; SAARC; INGOs, Red Cross movements; International Civil Aviation Organization.  

In the federal government, several departments have been formed under different ministries to enhance capacity for response, preparedness, and risk reduction. The provincial government coordinates between federal and local governments. The local government works directly with communities at all points of the disaster management cycle, from mitigation to resettlement, as mandated by the Local Government Operation Act 2017. The act has also mandated the establishment and operation of disaster management funds and the mobilization of resources. Furthermore, the endorsement of the Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act 2017 has mandated the formation of a national council, executive committee, and authority, as well as the delineation of roles, responsibilities, and accountabilities for disaster management. Subsequently, structures at the provincial and local levels are also formed. In this new disaster governance framework, the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Authority is crucial in facilitating coordination and collaboration mechanisms among all for comprehensive disaster management. 





Diagram: National disaster response mechanism within Foreign Support 


After the Government of Nepal determines the level of emergency and makes a decision to appeal for international support or not, the Nepal Government can activate the required cluster through the lead ministries and UN HCT. In case of large-scale disaster, 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 the Multinational Military (MN Military) and with search and rescue groups (SAR) of the Nepal Army, Nepal Police and Armed Police Force. See diagram: National disaster response mechanism. 



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



There are 114 INGOs and 21 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 Coordination and Clusters | UN Nepal Information Platform)(Source: Humanitarian Coordination and Clusters | UN Nepal Information Platform

Humanitarian clusters’ Leads and Co-leads   

 Agency CO-lead  




Camp coordination and camp management cluster  

Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD)  

Save the Children  

Education cluster  

Center for Education and human Resource Center (MoEST)  


Emergency Shelter Cluster  

Department of Urban Development and Building Construction (DUDBC)  


Emergency Telecommunications cluster 

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)  


Nutrition Sector  

Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock Development (MoALD)  


Logistics Sector  

Ministry of Home Affairs (MoHA)  


Protection Sector  

Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens (MoWCS) 


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

Jump to top