UT graduate student speaks on disaster preparedness in Nepal

University of Tennessee graduate student, Krista Billingsley, lectured on structural violence and disaster management in Nepal on Friday Sep. 18 in the McClung Museum.

Nepal experienced a 7.8 magnitude earthquake April 25 that killed 8,700 people, leaving parts of the country in desolation. Billingsley spoke on the inequalities following the earthquake and the government’s inability to respond properly to the disaster.

“At least for the immediate future, political instability is part of the landscape in Nepal,” Billingsley said. “Now that the government has agreed upon a new constitution and political boundaries are decided, work should begin on how to better prepare for disasters with attention to structural inequality.”

Relief efforts following the earthquake centered aid in the capital city of Kathmandu, leaving rural areas with limited assistance. Billingsley suggests this gap is due to political favoritism and the caste system.

Billingsley proposes that due to structural violence–the act of a government or institution preventing people from meeting basic needs–human rights violations and inequality increased in Nepal.

“Disaster preparedness and management must adapt to ongoing political changes. The process of ending structural violence should begin now and local consultations should be an ongoing process in Nepal,” Billingsley said.

Ideal reform in Nepal, according to Billingsley, includes a stable national government, local elections, the end of corruption and a global economy that does not exacerbate existing inequalities.

For more information on this issue, email Krista Billingsley at kbillingsley@utk.edu. If you would like to help by donating to disaster relief in Nepal please visit UNICEF’s website.

Edited by Courtney Anderson