Mainstreaming disaster risk reduction in Nepal: The rhetoric and the reality

Walsh, Sara (2017) Mainstreaming disaster risk reduction in Nepal: The rhetoric and the reality. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

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To address the growing frequency and intensity of disasters a global effort is underway to change the dominant approach to disaster policy from disaster response to integrating disaster risk reduction (DRR) throughout development activities. Research into how DRR policy progresses in a government context is lacking. Using a qualitative case-study approach this research examines how the global policy prescription of mainstreaming disaster risk reduction (DRR) is unfolding within the Government of Nepal. In particular, this research a) challenges the rhetoric of substantive policy change that underpins the concept of mainstreaming and b) questions its efficacy as a neoliberal post-New Public Management policy tool given that the disaster vulnerability literature implicates neoliberalism as a driver of disaster risk. Finding change to be the dominant theme throughout the research, it applies theories and frameworks from the policy paradigm change literatures (e.g. Advocacy Coalition Framework, social learning and paradigm policy change) to explain what was found in the Nepal case-study. Eight months of fieldwork took place throughout 2014-2016. In total, eighty-eight in-depth interviews were conducted with bureaucrats and political party members at the central, district, and local levels. This research advances the disaster vulnerability scholarship through its critique of neoliberal policy discourse and its application of policy change literature.

It is argued that the concept of mainstreaming fits the criteria of a neoliberal buzzword; the findings of this research demonstrate why this is problematic. The lead ministry responsible for disaster management appropriated the global policy rhetoric of mainstreaming DRR in order to minimize any substantive policy change that the DRR agenda promotes. Despite this, evidence is also found of a growing awareness and advocacy of DRR within the Government of Nepal. This is suggestive of an advocacy coalition starting to develop, which is being built through social learning. The role of individual bureaucrats and political party members, rather than a centralised legalistic approach, is found to be fundamental to changing the disaster response policy paradigm. This research calls attention to the need to critically analyse how top-down global DRR policy prescriptions are interpreted by nation-states. Empty and hollow global policy buzzwords are easily translated into a rhetoric that does not match with the reality of the governing and the policy environment.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
L700 Human and Social Geography
Department: Faculties > Engineering and Environment > Geography and Environmental Sciences
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: Becky Skoyles
Date Deposited: 10 Oct 2018 15:09
Last Modified: 31 Jul 2021 22:46

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