In addition to managing connections between hazards, governance practices aimed at reducing multi-hazard risk can facilitate two other forms of collaboration: across borders, and between people, residents and otherwise, with different forms of expertise.
First, current collaboration across borders in the Himalaya should be expanded and strengthened. Both hazards and people cross borders, so multi-hazard mitigation must do the same. This last summer, for instance, a landslide-dammed lake in the Rongxer basin in China threatened Nepali settlements downstream along the Tama Kosi River with flooding.
Further along the same river, sedimentation in Nepal is one of many factors contributing to downstream flooding in Bihar, India. The establishment of cross-border early warning agreements is an important way to reduce these risks and is a first step toward connecting upstream and downstream risk reduction through a multi-hazard approach.
Second, the collaboration between people with different types of knowledge about hazard risk — including technical, development, and local experts — is essential for ensuring the success of risk reduction programs. An inspiring precedent for this kind of collaboration is the development of jholmal natural fertiliser and pesticide.
The development of jholmal required combining local practices with the work of technical specialists and efforts to reduce chemical runoff and farming costs to create a cost-effective formula easily communicated to and replicated by the region’s residents and other local experts. This collaborative and multi-pronged approach can serve as model for mitigating multi-hazard risk.
A focus on multi-hazards does not contradict the need to reduce the risk associated with individual hazards; instead, a multi-hazard approach is an opportunity to align risk reduction measures to avoid tradeoffs and find synergies.
Adopting a multi-hazard approach may present technical or governance challenges but the opportunity is clear: in the face of ongoing climate change and urbanisation, effective disaster risk reduction in environments such as Nepal, the Himalaya, and other mountainous regions necessitates a multi-hazard approach.
Jack Rusk is a member of the Urban Himalaya research team. Urban Himalaya is an international, interdisciplinary, collaborative research partnership that seeks to understand urbanization and vulnerability in the Himalaya. Our recent research on multi-hazards was published in the journal Science of the Total Environment.