Disaster justice in Nepal's earthquake recovery

Krishna K. Shrestha, Basundhara Bhattarai, Hemant R. Ojha, Ayusha Bajracharya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


Many policies on disaster governance and community resilience aim at enhancing justice outcomes at the local community level. In so doing, they tend to focus on equal distribution of a set of rights and goods among the communities. However, these rights and goods are defined by an underlying value structure, and such structures tend to mirror the interests of the powerful groups in the community. The fundamental problem is that the equality of the rights and redistribution of the goods cannot remedy disaster injustices. Taking a case study from Nepal's earthquake 2015, this paper aims to link key works on disasters with justice theories - an attempt, which could help strengthen the conceptual foundations of policy responses to disaster recovery. We use the Nepal case of earthquake recovery to demonstrate the relevance of disaster justice lens which emphasizes the role of disaster justice champions, critical politics of knowledge, accountability, representation and disaster justice convictions. We demonstrate that the platform of critical knowledge politics is important where civic science and traditional science is deliberated, interrogated, negotiated and integrated. We argue that only when disaster justice champions with convictions of priority to the disadvantaged effectively utilizes the platform of critical knowledge politics, it is possible to influence political deliberations and decision making that can potentially enhance disaster justice in practice. Finally, and in a more theoretical sense, we argue that in order to enhance disaster justice, responses need to be informed by the understanding of 'justice as redistribution' as well as 'justice as recognition'.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)207-216
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


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