Kathmandu, Nepal
Kathmandu, Nepal

Tribhuvan University is a public university in Kirtipur, Kathmandu, Nepal. Established in 1959, TU is the oldest of the five universities in Nepal. Enrolment in 2013-2014 was tenth largest in the world. The university provides undergraduate and graduate education. More than 4,400 courses are offered, of which 500 are for intermediate-level courses , 2,079 are for undergraduate and 2,000 are for postgraduate programs. The university has 85 integral colleges and more than 600 affiliated colleges throughout the country. Since it is government financed, it is less expensive than private universities. Wikipedia.


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News Article | May 15, 2017
Site: www.prnewswire.com

"The development of a child inside the mother affects that child its entire life, and low birth weight has lifelong health implications for a child," says Mark Steinhoff, MD, corresponding author on the study and director of the Global Health Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. "The overall positive effect of performing these vaccinations – which is not expensive – is quite significant." Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (grant 50274), the research team focused its study on the subtropical terai plains of southern Nepal in south Asia. This underdeveloped, agrarian region is known for a subsistence lifestyle, high rates of malnutrition and limited access to healthcare, and is representative of many tropical regions where 40 percent of the world's births occur. Researchers traveled to villages in southern Nepal during normal routine health visits by Nepalese members of the team. Participating households were then followed up and surveilled on a weekly basis during home visits. Collaborating on the study were researchers from the Nepal Nutrition Intervention Project and the Tribhuvan University Institute of Medicine, both based in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu. In households where women between the ages of 15 and 40 were pregnant, volunteer participants were administered either influenza vaccine or placebo as part of a randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 4 clinical trial.  The trial was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov and the protocol was reviewed and approved by the institutional review boards of participating institutions. From April 2011 through September 2013, 3,693 mothers were recruited and randomized into two different annual research groups (or cohorts). In the first cohort of 2,090, 1,040 mothers were given placebo, and 1,049 were administered seasonally recommended trivalent inactivated vaccine (which contains three inactivated flu viruses). In the second cohort of 1,603 mothers, 805 were given placebo and 798 received vaccine. There were a total of 3,646 live births in both groups. The researchers assessed three primary outcomes: the incidence of laboratory confirmed infant influenza from 0-180 days post birth; the incidence of low birth weight; and the incidence of influenza-like illness in mothers 0-180 days following delivery. In cohort 1, compared to the placebo group influenza-like illness was reduced by 9 percent in pre- and post-partum mothers who received vaccine. In cohort 2, flu-like illness was reduced by 36 percent. This placed the average flu reduction rate for both groups of vaccinated mothers at 19 percent. For infants, lab-confirmed flu infections in cohort 1 decreased 16 percent in babies with vaccinated mothers. In cohort 2 they decreased by 60 percent – putting the average rate of reduction for both cohorts at 30 percent. As for birth weight, flu immunizations in pregnant mothers reduced the rate of low birth weight (less than 2,500 grams/5.5 pounds) by 15 percent in cohort 1 and by 15 percent in cohort 2 (average 15 percent for both groups). There were 111 infant deaths during the study – 50 in the placebo group and 51 in the vaccine group; and seven maternal deaths – five in the placebo group and two in the vaccine group. Researchers are following up their current study by gathering additional data to support the expansion of year-round flu vaccination to other regions where it is needed. Steinhoff said this is especially important for developing countries like Nepal and where influenza has a more significant impact on birth weights than in developed nations. An estimated 40 percent of the world's population lives in subtropical/tropical zones, although flu vaccine is not widely used in these areas, according to the authors. The benefits of vaccinating pregnant women is well documented in developed countries. Its use has not been prevalent in underdeveloped subtropical/tropical regions, where many local officials have believed until recently that influenza virus does not even exist. Study authors note that the timing, circulation and type of flu virus are highly variable in subtropical and tropical regions. During the current study in Nepal, the circulation of flu increased during the South Asian Southwest monsoon season in July-October. Active symptomatic flu virus was present among study participants for 24 (or 66 percent) of the study months, with two more strains of virus circulating during 18 of these months. Researchers also pointed out that most of positive effect from flu vaccination was observed in the second study group of mothers and infants. This second group received two different formulations of flu vaccine with a broader range of antigens to account for virus variability in the region. This high variability of influenza virus in the study region (and other subtropical/tropical climates) will require improved vaccines with broader antigenic coverage, the authors report. Other collaborating institutions include: the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; the University of Washington, School of Medicine; the Milken Institute of Public Health at George Washington University. To view the original version on PR Newswire, visit:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/year-round-flu-vaccinations-promote-healthier-infants-in-subtropics-300457594.html


News Article | May 15, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

CINCINNATI - Vaccinating pregnant mothers year-round against flu in the resource-challenged region of subtropical Nepal reduced infant flu virus infection rates by an average of 30 percent, increased birth weights by 15 percent and resulted in babies having less influenza, according to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. Reporting their data in a study published online May 15, an international research team says expanding year-round flu vaccinations during pregnancy would also benefit children in other tropical and subtropical parts of the world -- where flu viruses can be pervasive and circulate 8 to 12 months a year. "The development of a child inside the mother affects that child its entire life, and low birth weight has lifelong health implications for a child," says Mark Steinhoff, MD, corresponding author on the study and director of the Global Health Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. "The overall positive effect of performing these vaccinations -- which is not expensive -- is quite significant." Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (grant 50274), the research team focused its study on the subtropical terai plains of southern Nepal in south Asia. This underdeveloped, agrarian region is known for a subsistence lifestyle, high rates of malnutrition and limited access to healthcare, and is representative of many tropical regions where 40% of the worlds births occur, Researchers traveled to villages in southern Nepal during normal routine health visits by Nepalese members of the team. Participating households were then followed up and surveilled on a weekly basis during home visits. Collaborating on the study were researchers from the Nepal Nutrition Intervention Project and the Tribhuvan University Institute of Medicine, both based in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu. In households where women between the ages of 15 and 40 were pregnant, volunteer participants were administered either influenza vaccine or placebo as part of a randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 4 clinical trial. The trial was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov and the protocol was reviewed and approved by the institutional review boards of participating institutions. From April 2011 through September 2013, 3,693 mothers were recruited and randomized into two different annual research groups (or cohorts). In the first cohort of 2,090, 1,040 mothers were given placebo, and 1,049 were administered seasonally recommended trivalent inactivated vaccine (which contains three inactivated flu viruses). In the second cohort of 1,603 mothers, 805 were given placebo and 798 received vaccine. There were a total of 3,646 live births in both groups. The researchers assessed three primary outcomes: the incidence of laboratory confirmed infant influenza from 0-180 days post birth; the incidence of low birth weight; and the incidence of influenza-like illness in mothers 0-180 days following delivery. In cohort 1, compared to the placebo group influenza-like illness was reduced by 9 percent in pre- and post-partum mothers who received vaccine. In cohort 2, flu-like illness was reduced by 36 percent. This placed the average flu reduction rate for both groups of vaccinated mothers at 19 percent. For infants, lab-confirmed flu infections in cohort 1 decreased 16 percent in babies with vaccinated mothers. In cohort 2 they decreased by 60 percent -- putting the average rate of reduction for both cohorts at 30 percent. As for birth weight, flu immunizations in pregnant mothers reduced the rate of low birth weight (less than 2,500 grams/5.5 pounds) by 15 percent in cohort 1 and by 15 percent in cohort 2 (average 15 percent for both groups). There were 111 infant deaths during the study -- 50 in the placebo group and 51 in the vaccine group; and seven maternal deaths -- five in the placebo group and two in the vaccine group. Researchers are following up their current study by gathering additional data to support the expansion of year-round flu vaccination to other regions where it is needed. Steinhoff said this is especially important for developing countries like Nepal and where influenza has a more significant impact on birth weights than in developed nations. An estimated 40 percent of the world's population lives in subtropical/tropical zones, although flu vaccine is not widely used in these areas, according to the authors. The benefits of vaccinating pregnant women is well documented in developed countries. Its use has not been prevalent in underdeveloped subtropical/tropical regions, where many local officials have believed until recently that influenza virus does not even exist. Study authors note that the timing, circulation and type of flu virus are highly variable in subtropical and tropical regions. During the current study in Nepal, the circulation of flu increased during the South Asian Southwest monsoon season in July-October. Active symptomatic flu virus was present among study participants for 24 (or 66 percent) of the study months, with two more strains of virus circulating during 18 of these months. Researchers also pointed out that most of positive effect from flu vaccination was observed in the second study group of mothers and infants. This second group received two different formulations of flu vaccine with a broader range of antigens to account for virus variability in the region. This high variability of influenza virus in the study region (and other subtropical/tropical climates) will require improved vaccines with broader antigenic coverage, the authors report. Other collaborating institutions include: the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health; the University of Washington, School of Medicine; the Milken Institute of Public Health at George Washington University.


News Article | May 15, 2017
Site: www.sciencedaily.com

Vaccinating pregnant mothers year-round against flu in the resource-challenged region of subtropical Nepal reduced infant flu virus infection rates by an average of 30 percent, increased birth weights by 15 percent and resulted in babies having less influenza, according to a study published in The Lancet Infectious Diseases. Reporting their data in a study published online May 15, an international research team says expanding year-round flu vaccinations during pregnancy would also benefit children in other tropical and subtropical parts of the world -- where flu viruses can be pervasive and circulate 8 to 12 months a year. "The development of a child inside the mother affects that child its entire life, and low birth weight has lifelong health implications for a child," says Mark Steinhoff, MD, corresponding author on the study and director of the Global Health Center at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. "The overall positive effect of performing these vaccinations -- which is not expensive -- is quite significant." Funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (grant 50274), the research team focused its study on the subtropical terai plains of southern Nepal in south Asia. This underdeveloped, agrarian region is known for a subsistence lifestyle, high rates of malnutrition and limited access to healthcare, and is representative of many tropical regions where 40% of the worlds births occur, Researchers traveled to villages in southern Nepal during normal routine health visits by Nepalese members of the team. Participating households were then followed up and surveilled on a weekly basis during home visits. Collaborating on the study were researchers from the Nepal Nutrition Intervention Project and the Tribhuvan University Institute of Medicine, both based in the Nepalese capital of Kathmandu. In households where women between the ages of 15 and 40 were pregnant, volunteer participants were administered either influenza vaccine or placebo as part of a randomized, placebo-controlled Phase 4 clinical trial. The trial was registered with ClinicalTrials.gov and the protocol was reviewed and approved by the institutional review boards of participating institutions. From April 2011 through September 2013, 3,693 mothers were recruited and randomized into two different annual research groups (or cohorts). In the first cohort of 2,090, 1,040 mothers were given placebo, and 1,049 were administered seasonally recommended trivalent inactivated vaccine (which contains three inactivated flu viruses). In the second cohort of 1,603 mothers, 805 were given placebo and 798 received vaccine. There were a total of 3,646 live births in both groups. The researchers assessed three primary outcomes: the incidence of laboratory confirmed infant influenza from 0-180 days post birth; the incidence of low birth weight; and the incidence of influenza-like illness in mothers 0-180 days following delivery. In cohort 1, compared to the placebo group influenza-like illness was reduced by 9 percent in pre- and post-partum mothers who received vaccine. In cohort 2, flu-like illness was reduced by 36 percent. This placed the average flu reduction rate for both groups of vaccinated mothers at 19 percent. For infants, lab-confirmed flu infections in cohort 1 decreased 16 percent in babies with vaccinated mothers. In cohort 2 they decreased by 60 percent -- putting the average rate of reduction for both cohorts at 30 percent. As for birth weight, flu immunizations in pregnant mothers reduced the rate of low birth weight (less than 2,500 grams/5.5 pounds) by 15 percent in cohort 1 and by 15 percent in cohort 2 (average 15 percent for both groups). There were 111 infant deaths during the study -- 50 in the placebo group and 51 in the vaccine group; and seven maternal deaths -- five in the placebo group and two in the vaccine group. Researchers are following up their current study by gathering additional data to support the expansion of year-round flu vaccination to other regions where it is needed. Steinhoff said this is especially important for developing countries like Nepal and where influenza has a more significant impact on birth weights than in developed nations. An estimated 40 percent of the world's population lives in subtropical/tropical zones, although flu vaccine is not widely used in these areas, according to the authors. The benefits of vaccinating pregnant women is well documented in developed countries. Its use has not been prevalent in underdeveloped subtropical/tropical regions, where many local officials have believed until recently that influenza virus does not even exist. Study authors note that the timing, circulation and type of flu virus are highly variable in subtropical and tropical regions. During the current study in Nepal, the circulation of flu increased during the South Asian Southwest monsoon season in July-October. Active symptomatic flu virus was present among study participants for 24 (or 66 percent) of the study months, with two more strains of virus circulating during 18 of these months. Researchers also pointed out that most of positive effect from flu vaccination was observed in the second study group of mothers and infants. This second group received two different formulations of flu vaccine with a broader range of antigens to account for virus variability in the region. This high variability of influenza virus in the study region (and other subtropical/tropical climates) will require improved vaccines with broader antigenic coverage, the authors report.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CSA-SA | Phase: INCO.2013-1.6 | Award Amount: 335.55K | Year: 2013

CASCADE aims to provide the foundation for a future INCONET programme targeting South Asian Countries, which will promote bi-regional coordination of Science &Technology (S&T) cooperation, including priority setting and definition of S&T cooperation policies. The objectives of CASCADE, as an 18-month supporting action, are to: compile a regional position paper that identifies global challenges and research priorities; map and develop an inventory of national and regional stakeholders related to global challenges; and, raise awareness on research & innovation priorities for fostering cooperation and towards building mutual understanding on how to address common global societal challenges. CASCADE targets & has the participation of all South Asian countries specified in the Call: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. The project comprises five work packages (WP). WP1 will, coordinate the delivery of project outputs, ensure achievement of anticipated outcomes, and develop and manage project infrastructure. WP2 will produce national (Afghanistan, Bangladesh,Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka) and regional (Southern Asia) position papers providing a consensus on the key societal challenges in the region linked to Horizon2020. These papers will be used as the basis for WP3: the identification and mapping of key national and regional stakeholders that can influence and address these societal challenges. WP4 will engage these key stakeholders, raise awareness of the potential for EU-Southern Asia cooperation, and stimulate their participation in Horizon 2020. WP5 will use the position papers from WP2 and stakeholder maps from WP3 to compile a policy brief with recommendations to the European Commission on how to promote bi-lateral cooperation with Southern Asia with a view to tackling key societal challenges of mutual interest. WP5 will also promote Southern Asian contacts among major European stakeholders.


News Article | February 27, 2017
Site: www.eurekalert.org

A major new research programme will be launched today at the University of East Anglia (UEA) to help improve understanding about how adult learning can address inequalities in the poorest communities of the world. The university has been invited by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to join its prestigious University Network and establish the first UNESCO Chair in Adult Literacy and Learning for Social Transformation. Led by Chairholder Anna Robinson-Pant, professor of education at UEA, the international collaboration with researchers in Nepal, Ethiopia and Egypt will focus in particular on women and young adults, investigating how or why adult literacy and learning programmes might better respond to processes of social transformation, including women's empowerment. The Chair programme aims to strengthen the interaction between formal, non-formal and informal learning in research, policy and programmes and will build directly on the expertise of the UEA Literacy and Development Group, which brings together researchers in education and international development from across the university. Today's launch will be opened by UEA Vice-Chancellor Prof David Richardson, with speakers including James Bridge, chief executive of the UK National Commission for UNESCO. The event will feature presentations by the UEA UNESCO Chair team, Prof Alan Smith (UNESCO Chairholder in Education for Pluralism, Human Rights and Democracy, University of Ulster), Prof Mary Hamilton (University of Lancaster), Prof Gemma Moss (Institute of Education, University College London), Mari Hartl (International Fund for Agricultural Development, IFAD) and Mari Yasunaga (UNESCO Paris). Among the topics to be discussed at the launch will be indigenous women and adult literary, as well as a joint IFAD-UNESCO project on learning knowledge and skills for agriculture to improve rural livelihoods. Prof Robinson-Pant led the project, which prompted the initial proposal for a Chair in this area. This UNESCO Chair programme is a partnership with university departments specialising in adult literacy and community learning in Ethiopia (Bahir Dar University), Nepal (Kathmandu University and Tribhuvan University Research Center for Educational Innovation and Development, CERID) and Egypt (Ain Shams University). Prof Robinson-Pant recently visited Nepal to meet with colleagues at Kathmandu University, CERID, the Ministry of Education and key development agencies to discuss possible collaborative research projects around adult literacy and education and community learning. Prof Robinson-Pant said: "We are delighted to launch this programme today. Adult education can become a force for change in the poorest communities of the world and this is a real opportunity to work closely with colleagues in Ethiopia, Egypt and Nepal who share that view. "Our programme of collaborative research and training should also contribute to the 2030 sustainable development agenda, highlighting the central role of adult learning and literacy in areas like health and agricultural development." The chair of the UK National Commission for UNESCO, Dr Beth Taylor, said: "I am delighted to welcome the Chair in Adult Literacy and Learning for Social Transformation to the UK's UNESCO Chairs Network. The Chair will join a well-established network of 16 UK UNESCO Chairs and UNITWIN Networks in diverse subjects ranging from Sustainable Mountain Development to Archaeological Ethics. Being accepted to the Network is in recognition of the University of East Anglia's academic excellence and the contribution of its research to UNESCO's core mission of promoting peace in the minds of men and women. "I hope that the designation will help provide a national and global platform for the Chair's research, and will add value for the university. Recent research by the UK National Commission found that UK Chairs generated an estimated £14.4 million in 2014/15 through their association with UNESCO." The UEA team consists of Prof Robinson-Pant, Prof Nitya Rao, Dr Sheila Aikman, Dr Catherine Jere, Prof Alan Rogers and Dr Spyros Themelis. The expertise of the group includes literacy and women's empowerment, migration and education, the influence of education on social and economic mobility, and cultural and linguistic change in low income countries. The aim of the Chair is to strengthen qualitative research capacity in the field of adult literacy, learning and social transformation through collaborative research and curriculum development activities. It also sets out to develop new initiatives with key policy organisations in this field - particularly the UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning in Hamburg - the aim being to promote greater interaction between research and policy in areas such as vocational skill development, health and agriculture. A series of research workshops is proposed as part of the new Chair, as well as an international conference in 2018. The team also hope to work with organisations involved in adult education in Norwich - such as New Routes, an established NGO working with recently settled migrants - to inform some of the international activities.


News Article | December 5, 2016
Site: www.eurekalert.org

RENO, Nev. - An earthquake much more powerful and damaging than last year's 7.8 magnitude quake could rock Kathmandu and the Himalayan Frontal Fault, an international team of seismic experts has concluded. The unsettling news comes after field research and analysis in the year following the 2015 Gorkha earthquake, which killed 9,000 people and destroyed 600,000 structures throughout the region. Geophysics professor and director of the Center for Neotectonic Studies, Steve Wesnousky of the University of Nevada, Reno, has been studying the Himalayan Frontal Fault for 20 years. He was one of the first scientists into the region to assess the geophysical impacts following last year's quake. His latest research was published in the Elsevier science journal Earth and Planetary Science Letters. "We conducted a number of paleoearthquake studies in the vicinity of Katmandu in the past year, digging trenches and studying soils and faultlines looking back over the past 2,000 years," Wesnousky said. "Coupled with the historical record, it's apparent the faults are capable of earthquakes far greater than the Gorkha earthquake." Last year's earthquake and aftershocks could be viewed as a warning of a more powerful earthquake that could rock the region with even more devastating effects. The team's observations shows the Tribeni site is probably approaching or is in the later stages of strain accumulation before a large earthquake, which could produce 15- to 30-foot high fractures in the earth. "The sum of our observations suggest that this section of the Himalayan Frontal Thrust fault, extending about 200 kilometers from Tribeni to Bagmati, may rupture simultaneously, and the next great earthquake near Kathmandu may rupture an area significantly greater than in the Gorkha earthquake," Wesnousky said. "It is prudent to consider that the fault near Kathmandu is in the later stages of a strain accumulation cycle prior to a great thrust earthquake, much greater than occurred in 2015. In these regards, the 2015 Gorkha earthquake did not diminish the current level of seismic hazard in Kathmandu." Funded by the National Science Foundation, the team visited the Kathmandu region several times for hands-on study of the faultlines. They dug two deep trenches near the mouths of major rivers at Tribeni and Bagmati. They examined structural, stratigraphic (layers of rocks and soils) and radiocarbon relationships in trenches across the fault where it has produced steep banks in soil deposited by the rivers. In these trenches is evidence that earthquake displacement along this part of the Himalayan Frontal Thrust has produced surface ruptures resulting in a scarp, a steep bank, of at least five meters or 15 feet vertical separation sometime between the years 1221 and 1262 in Tribeni, located about 200 kilometers south of Kathmandu. At the Bagmati site, the vertical separation across the scarp registers about 10 meters, or 30 feet and possibly greater, and was formed between 1031 and 1321 AD. "The scenario we developed hypothesizes that the next great earthquake may begin to the west near Tribeni and propagate into the section of fault beneath Kathmandu that did not rupture during the 2015 Gorkha earthquake," Wesnousky said. "The length of such a rupture would be about 200 kilometers or greater and capable of producing a magnitude 8 or greater earthquake. This scenario is not unique." Wesnousky's research team includes Deepak Chamlagain, a professor at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu, Yashurhiro Kumahara a professor at Hiroshima University in Japan, Ian Pierce of the Center for Neotectonics Studies and the Nevada Seismological Laboratory at the University of Nevada, Reno, Alina Karki of Tribhuvan University and Dipendra Gautam of the Centre for Disaster and Climate Change Studies in Kathmandu. Wesnousky, a member of the Nevada Seismological Laboratory in the College of Science, has six peer-reviewed scientific papers about the Himalayan fault and more than 100 papers about earthquakes published during his career. His work centers on the foothills south of Kathmandu, just over the border in India and he has expanded his study area following the historic quake, the first large quake in that area since 1930. Following the April 2015 quake he and two of his doctoral students, Ian Pierce and Steve Angster, spent six days in the area south of Kathmandu looking for ground ruptures, following leads from villagers and residents as well as visiting various other sites studied in the past. During their studies, the graduate students sent photos and updates about their work in the Himalayas, which are posted on the University's website at http://www. . Their observations are working to further define the seismic hazard of the region as well as the mechanics of fault rupture along major continental thrust faults. A Fulbright Scholar, Wesnousky has studied earthquakes, faultlines and seismic activity throughout Nevada and parts of South America, California, Pakistan, New Zealand, Mexico, Japan, the Solomon Islands, China and India. "Steve embodies the quintessential University professor and scientist, conducting a full body of relevant research, successful teaching and community outreach," Jeff Thompson, dean of the College of Science, said. "He has done a wonderful job with the neotectonics center, informing the body of knowledge on the world's most hazardous earthquake fault zones." Photo cutline: Professor Steve Wesnousky of the College of Science at the University of Nevada, Reno examines layers of rock and soil in a trench in Tribeni, a small town in central Nepal, to study the frequency of large earthquakes on the Himalayan Frontal Fault. In a recently published study, his team concludes this 200-kilometer long section of the earthquake fault could rupture spontaneously in a magnitude 8 or greater earthquake. Photo courtesy of the University of Nevada, Reno. Nevada's land-grant university founded in 1874, the University of Nevada, Reno ranks in the top tier of best national universities by U.S. News and World Report and is steadily growing in enrollment, excellence and reputation. The University serves more than 21,000 students. Part of the Nevada System of Higher Education, the University is home to the University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine, University of Nevada Cooperative Extension and Wolf Pack Athletics. Through a commitment to world-improving research, student success and outreach benefiting the communities and businesses of Nevada, the University has impact across the state and around the world. For more information, visit www.unr.edu.


News Article | April 27, 2016
Site: www.nature.com

Kodari is a ghost town on an empty Nepalese highway that cuts through some of the steepest slopes of the Himalayas. One year after the magnitude-7.8 Gorkha earthquake killed nearly 9,000 people, the once-buzzing trade centre looks like a battlefield where armies of giants once waged war. The road is littered with rusting cars and trucks smashed into bizarre shapes. Massive boulders rest on the wreckage of homes. “It’s a good example of building a town in the wrong place,” says Kristen Cook, a geologist at the German Research Centre for Geosciences (GFZ) in Potsdam, as she climbs over the rubble from one of the landslides that crushed the town. The Arniko Highway, which runs through Kodari, is no stranger to such calamities, especially in the monsoon season. “It was in frequent repair and closure even before the earthquake,” says Shanmukesh Amatya, landslide-division chief at Nepal’s Department of Water Induced Disaster Prevention in Kathmandu. “The problem now is overwhelming.” The highway is not the only thing that keeps Amatya awake at night. The earthquake unleashed more than 10,000 landslides that blocked rivers and damaged houses, roads and other key pieces of infrastructure across the country. And the destruction didn’t stop with the shaking (see ‘Deadly impact’). The hilly terrain, severely weakened by the quake, is now more likely to slip after strong rains and aftershocks — a legacy that is likely to endure for years. During the most recent monsoon, the area affected by landslides was about ten times greater than usual. “It’s a real problem for reconstruction,” says Tara Nidhi Bhattarai, a geologist at Tribhuvan University in Kathmandu and chief scientist of Nepal’s National Reconstruction Authority — an agency established last year to manage the recovery efforts. “What are the safe places to rebuild, in a landscape that is evolving?” To answer that, geoscientists are wiring up the mountains in Nepal and other seismically active countries. By monitoring how hillsides evolve, researchers are learning why strong shaking weakens a slope and makes it more prone to give way during aftershocks or rainstorms. The lessons from such studies could help to pinpoint when and where the side of a mountain will collapse. The significance goes beyond quake recovery. Himalayan nations are facing increasing risks from landslides because of deforestation, road construction, population growth and other changes that have pushed people to live in hazardous locations. Climate change may exacerbate the problem by melting glaciers and triggering increasingly extreme rainfall. “There is a pressing need to monitor the risks in the long run,” says Amatya. “A nationwide early-warning system is long overdue.” A crowd eagerly looks on as Cook flies a drone through the skies near Listi, a small village perched on a mountainside above the Arniko Highway. With its four propellers, the little robot zips over landslide scars that run down from the ridge like gigantic frozen waterfalls. A camera and other sensors on the drone provide data that let Cook build a 3D reconstruction of the landscape. She started the work last October and will take measurements every few months over the next few years. By scanning as many landslide-inflicted areas as possible, she says, “we will be able trace how they change over time and what’s the effect of monsoons”. Such measurements of the surface will complement studies that track what’s happening underground. Not far from Cook is her colleague Christoff Andermann, another GFZ geologist, who is performing maintenance on a broadband seismometer, a device that measures shaking across a wide range of frequencies. Last June, the GFZ team installed a dozen such instruments, along with weather stations and river-flow sensors, across 50 square kilometres of landslide-riddled terrain. Seismometers are a relatively new addition to landslide studies by the GFZ researchers and their colleagues. They started using the sensors only after an accidental discovery. In 2003, a set of seismic stations installed in Nepal to study deep structures in Earth’s crust picked up high-frequency noise from nearby rivers and shifting slopes. Arnaud Burtin, a seismologist now at the Earth Physics Institute in Paris, noticed a series of peaks in that noise before a debris flow in central Nepal that killed 45 people. He and his colleagues went on to identify1 46 debris flows from seismograms taken during that monsoon season. By comparing the data with information from weather stations, the team also determined how much rainfall was required to trigger slides. Researchers have typically used satellite imagery or aerial photography to track landscape changes on a large scale, but these methods have relatively poor temporal resolution because images are taken days or months apart. Seismometers take snapshots hundreds of times per second, so they are ideal for monitoring slopes for instability, says Colin Stark, a geologist at the Lamont–Doherty Earth Observatory in Palisades, New York, who studies monster landslides using global seismic networks. When seismometers are placed strategically, he says, it’s also possible to precisely locate the source of seismic signals in a large area. “Until recently, we had little idea why landslides are more likely to happen after an earthquake or how the slopes recover over time,” says Stark. But work over the past decade has revealed that cracks produced by an earthquake can boost the shaking in future shocks. Unpublished results from seismic stations, for example, show that on fractured slopes, ground motion can be up to 30 times what is measured in neighbouring, undamaged areas, says Jeffrey Moore, a geophysicist at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. This means that minor aftershocks could trigger unexpected levels of landslides in damaged slopes that did not fail in the main shock, he says. In some cases, the increased sensitivity can last for decades. A study2 of a magnitude-7.4 earthquake in New Zealand in 1968 found that the quake triggered more landslides than expected in places that had been affected by a magnitude-7.8 shock 21 kilometres away and nearly 4 decades before. Quake-stricken hills also have an increased sensitivity to rainfall, says Niels Hovius, a GFZ geologist who is leading the Nepal study. He and his colleagues have found3 that after the magnitude-7.6 ChiChi earthquake that hit Taiwan in 1999, the rate of rainfall-triggered landslides in the affected area jumped by a factor of 22. “The government cleared up the mess and rebuilt, but the same happened again a couple of years later,” he says. If scientists can develop greater insight into the mechanisms that control slope behaviour after an earthquake, that could help authorities to make better decisions about rebuilding. By analysing records after the ChiChi quake and three others with similar depths and slip mechanisms, Hovius and his colleagues also found3 that it took up to four years for landslide rates to return to pre-quake levels at those sites. In follow-up work, the team mined data from seismometers installed before ChiChi hit. The instruments were near roads, which made it possible to study subsurface properties by measuring how traffic vibrations travel through the ground. They found that the speed of seismic waves dropped markedly immediately after the quake. The velocities then recovered gradually, following roughly the same trajectory as the decline in landslide rates, says Odin Marc, a geologist at the GFZ, who presented the results last week at a meeting of the European Geosciences Union in Vienna. Over the same period, there were frequent, small surface displacements — presumably caused by the slow, creeping movement of Earth’s crust after an earthquake, a process known as post-seismic deformation. The researchers suspect that subsurface materials are packed together tightly before the earthquake, like beads in a box. Strong ground-shaking causes the granular mass to expand, opening up holes and cracks that make the ground less dense. “This is why seismic waves travel at reduced speeds,” says Hovius. Post-seismic deformation causes the openings to fill in and the subsurface sediments to become compact once more. “It’s an internal healing process of the landscape,” he says. Data collected after the Gorkha earthquake support that. Preliminary results show that seismic-wave velocities close to the surface declined sharply after the shock — and the volume of water flowing through rivers increased by 50%. That backs up the idea that the quake opened holes and fractures in the subsurface, which then allowed groundwater to leak more freely through the cracks, says Andermann, who has been monitoring river flows and sediment transport in the region for the past decade. Such findings suggest a way to predict landslides. Looking back over their data, the researchers were able to identify peaks of seismic signals in the run-up to a major landslide last July. “These precursors represent a sequence of processes that culminated in the failure,” says Hovius. “There was a systematic increase in the rate at which these precursor activities occurred, until the whole topography collapsed.” The GFZ team also found that seismic waves travel through the subsurface more quickly when the slope is drenched and pore spaces are filled with water. “We can see how quickly the effects of rainfall propagate into and through the subsurface” using seismic sensors, says Hovius.This effectively maps groundwater flow, a key factor in the strength of hillsides. With the seismic data, researchers can model the physics of slope stability and monitor changes in ground properties that might precipitate a landslide. In the village of Langtang in northern Nepal, a pile of rubble 60 metres deep provides ample incentive to improve landslide forecasts. During the earthquake last year, a mixture of ice and rock crashed down several kilo-metres onto the valley floor — landing with an impact that released half as much energy as the Hiroshima atomic bomb4. The slide buried Langtang and nearby villages, leaving nearly 400 people dead or missing. Research groups have been racing to understand where the avalanche began and whether the area is still at risk. One study5 found 5 initiation sites between altitudes of 6,800 and 7,200 metres, along a 3-kilometre ridge where the earthquake shook up snow and glaciers. These swept down the slope, picking up rocks as they went. Roughly 7 million cubic metres of debris filled the bottom of the valley, and another 10 million cubic metres still rest precariously on slopes more than 5,000 metres above sea level. A year after the quake, the sounds of falling rocks and shifting slopes frequently echo through the valley — a reminder of the remaining hazard. The Langtang case shares features with increasingly common rock avalanches in high mountains in Alaska and the Alps, says Marten Geertsema, a glaciologist with the British Columbia Ministry of Forests and Range in Prince George, Canada. In all these places, glaciers are quickly retreating, leaving rocky hillsides exposed and prone to failure. And warming at high elevations may cause frozen bedrock to thaw, he says, making it more permeable to melt water and weakening the rocks. “Climate change might have primed the landscape for the devastation.” At high-risk sites in Nepal, researchers are combining seismological and other techniques to watch for signs that mountainsides are growing restless. On the steep slope facing Listi, the earthquake caused the lower part of the ridge to subside, resulting in a 5-metre opening that skirts the mountain for about 2 kilometres. This gigantic crack and many smaller ones nearby pose a serious threat to downslope settlements, says Amod Dixit, executive director of Nepal’s National Society for Earthquake Technology (NEST) in Kathmandu. “They must be closely monitored.” Last August, Nick Rosser, a geologist at Durham University, UK, and his colleagues installed a series of instruments at ten locations across the slope — including strain meters to monitor changes in the cracks, accelerometers to measure ground vibration, and rain gauges. The data are relayed to a server at NEST, letting researchers track in real time whether the cracks are opening or contracting and how they respond to rainfall. Although it is not yet a fully fledged early-warning system, the set-up can identify signs of major deformation that could cause the slope to fail. Thankfully, says Rosser, “the cracks are not growing at the moment”. Settlements will be alerted to any impending danger, he adds. The researchers are using information from the field and from lab experiments on slope materials to try to determine what kind of ground deformation and rainfall would cause landslides. “This is crucial for setting the criteria for triggering an alert,” he says. The Durham sensors are within the area covered by the GFZ seismic array, so the teams will pool their field data. Together with satellite imagery and other measurements, this information will provide unprecedented insight into how the mountains are changing and what kind of danger this might pose to communities there, they say. At Listi, Cook is worried about a massive pile of debris that the drone has located high above the valley. The earthquake loosened a huge amount of rock and soil, but most did not make it all the way to the bottom. “They are just sitting there on the hillside,” says Cook, pointing to a mass on her remote-control screen. The materials could all come down in heavy rain — as some did during the last monsoon. “They are time bombs waiting to explode.”


Dahal R.K.,Tribhuvan University
Environmental Earth Sciences | Year: 2014

Landslide susceptibility zonation mapping is a fundamental procedure for geo-disaster management in tropical and sub-tropical regions. Recently, various landslide susceptibility zonation models have been introduced in Nepal with diverse approaches of assessment. However, validation is still a problem. Additionally, the role of various predisposing causative parameters for landslide activity is still not well understood in the Nepal Himalaya. To address these issues of susceptibility zonation and landslide activity, about 4,000 km2 area of central Nepal was selected for regional-scale assessment of landslide activity and susceptibility zonation mapping. In total, 655 new landslides and 9,229 old landslides were identified with the study area with the help of satellite images, aerial photographs, field data and available reports. The old landslide inventory was "blind landslide database" and could not explain the particular rainfall event responsible for the particular landslide. But considering size of the landslide, blind landslide inventory was reclassified into two databases: short-duration high-intensity rainfall-induced landslide inventory and long-duration low-intensity rainfall-induced landslide inventory. These landslide inventory maps were considered as proxy maps of multiple rainfall event-based landslide inventories. Similarly, all 9,884 landslides were considered for the activity assessment of predisposing causative parameters. For the Nepal Himalaya, slope, slope aspect, geology and road construction activity (anthropogenic cause) were identified as most affective predisposing causative parameters for landslide activity. For susceptibility zonation, multivariate approach was considered and two proxy rainfall event-based landslide databases were used for the logistic regression modelling, while a relatively recent landslide database was used in validation. Two event-based susceptibility zonation maps were merged and rectified to prepare the final susceptibility zonation map and its prediction rate was found to be more than 82 %. From this work, it is concluded that rectification of susceptibility zonation map is very appropriate and reliable. The results of this research contribute to a significant improvement in landslide inventory preparation procedure, susceptibility zonation mapping approaches as well as role of various predisposing causative parameters for the landslide activity. © 2013 Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


Pokharel R.K.,Tribhuvan University
Forest Policy and Economics | Year: 2012

Nepal is one of the first developing countries to adopt community forest management which gives authority to forest user groups to manage forest resources. Over one quarter of Nepal's forests is under community forest management. This study aims to examine whether management regime adopted by the Community Forest User Groups (CFUGs) is pro-poor and also what factors influence the management regime of Nepal's community forestry. The study relies on primary data from 100 CFUGs of three different mid-hill districts of Nepal. A set of questionnaire was developed and administered to a small group of 100 CFUGs. The CFUGs adopt rigid and less rigid regimes to manage the community forests. The CFUGs tend to favor poor by adopting less rigid management regime. The age of CFUGs, number of households using community forests, and percent of sal tree species composition in the forests tends to influence the management regime of CFUGs. A higher age of CFUGs, higher number of households and lower percentage of sal in the forests are likely to increase the CFUGs adopting rigid regime to manage the community forests. © 2011 Elsevier B.V.


Acharya S.P.,Tribhuvan University
International health | Year: 2013

Although critical care medicine has been established as a separate specialty in the rest of the world it is still in its initial stages of development in Nepal and intensive care units (ICUs) here are still in primitive stages. This article describes the history, the types and current status of ICUs, the challenges, and academic training and certification in critical care medicine in Nepal, compared with existing ICUs in other parts of the world.

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