This article was originally published by the Harvard T H Chan School of Public Health.
After a devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake in Nepal on April 25, 2015 killed 8,000 people, injured close to 25,000, and destroyed or damaged 500,000 homes, the international community rushed in to help. Governments and relief organizations from 23 countries sent scores of medical and military personnel, disaster response teams, mountaineers, engineers, and aid workers.
But, well-meaning though it was, the huge influx of helpers actually complicated relief efforts in the small South Asian nation, which had only a one-runway airport in its capital city, Kathmandu, and just a handful of helicopters available to transport relief workers to remote areas where many of the injured were located.
That issue and other lessons learned from the Nepal earthquake were the focus of a day-long symposium at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in mid-September. At the symposium—which filled Kresge G1 with faculty, students, policymakers, disaster response experts, and members of the Boston-area Nepali community—panelists talked about providing relief after a disaster and managing it effectively; about rebuilding; about the role of the media and technology during disasters; and about how to prepare for future disasters.