Resilience Strategies and Perceptions of the Potential Impacts of Earthquakes in Bhutan: Report for Building Bhutanese Resilience Against Cataclysmic Events (BRACE).

Frances Harris, Fergus Lyon, Kuenga Wangmo

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This report summarises the perceptions of a wide range of stakeholders to earthquake-related risks and their current resilience strategies. The research arises from the interdisciplinary project Building Bhutanese Resilience Against Cataclysmic Events (BRACE) project which brings together a range of natural and social scientists from the Bhutan, UK and the USA, to address the challenges of developing Bhutan’s resilience to earthquakes. This report presents the perceptions gathered from interviews in 2017 and 2018 with 52 people covering differing roles, with the aim of scoping out the issues that require further attention.
The greatest reported concerns relate to the collapse of building structures, with subsequent effect on human injury, and reduction in housing and shelter. An earthquake is expected to precipitate landslides, which may in turn block roads and may also bring about glacial lake outburst floods (GLOF), with consequent impacts downstream. Throughout interviews conducted as part of BRACE, it was widely assumed that the telecommunications network would be affected. Within hospitals efforts are being made to ensure buildings and their contents are safe ahead of an earthquake and prepare staff to treat injuries from earthquakes. It was felt that farming activities would be less affected than other industries in the event of an earthquake but that damage to roads would limit the movement of food, which could also affect the Food Corporation of Bhutan (FCB) depots and their stocks across the country. The responses to interviews indicated concerns about how water is delivered to households, and waste water removed after an earthquake. It is perceived that electricity supplies would be affected (and therefore communications by mobile telephone or internet), as well as fuel supplies for road or air transportation. Any damage to hydropower generation would impact on energy generation and potentially on revenue from energy sales abroad. Other businesses, particularly tourism could be adversely affected.
The report identifies a range of impacts which could be anticipated in the immediate, medium and longer term if a major earthquake occurred. Some of the consequences are already experienced such as road damage and seasonal flooding during the annual monsoon. Thus, resilience planning activities could take advantage of the existing structures and practices for preparation against all disasters, such as the National Disaster Management Authority and the Instant Command Structure. There are, however, some impacts which are specific to earthquakes which will require additional resources for resilience building.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages20
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 13 Mar 2019


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