It’s been more than four years since a magnitude 7.8 earthquake devastated Nepalese cities, claiming thousands of lives. Since then, there have been thousands of aftershocks. Yet when I spoke with residents of Bharatpur – Nepal’s fourth largest city – as part of my ongoing research, beginning in 2014, I was surprised to discover they were more concerned about wild animal attacks than the prospect of another high-magnitude quake.
Understanding what people worry about is crucial to preparing for natural hazards such as earthquakes and mitigating their effects. To prevent disasters, local people, municipal authorities and national governments all need to pull in the same direction – especially when budgets are low for disaster planning. But if residents feel that their everyday fears are ignored by those in power, they may disengage, leaving authorities unable to influence their behaviour in a time of crisis.