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Reducing Disaster Risk to Life and Livelihoods by Evaluating the Seismic Safety of Kathmandu's Historic Urban Infrastructure

Principal Investigator: Professor Robin Coningham, Durham University

Co-Investigators: Professor Ian Simpson, University of Stirling; Dr Andrew Wilson, University of Bradford; Professor David Toll, Durham University; Dr Paul Hughes, Durham University; Dr Vasilis Sarhosis, Newcastle University; Dr Sean Wilkinson, Newcastle University

Kathmandu’s medieval cities and shrines are exceptional architectural and artistic achievements with traditions of seismic adaptation. They host urban infrastructure of tangible and intangible value and play vital roles of cohesion in the life of thousands and represent portals where the heavens touch earth and people commune with guiding deities. Generating 7.6% GDP through tourism, Kathmandu’s iconic skyline was dramatically altered by the Gorkha Earthquake in 2015. Losses included 9,000 killed, 20,000 injured and the destruction of 500,000 homes. A total of 691 historic monuments across Nepal were damaged, of which 131 collapsed causing death and injury, with an associated 32% cancellation of tourist visits. This interdisciplinary North-South partnership contributes to SDG17 by co-producing and disseminating a methodology to assess, evaluate and improve the seismic safety of historic urban infrastructure within Kathmandu's World Heritage sites, reducing direct risk to life and livelihoods and damage of gains towards SDG11, while preserving Kathmandu’s authenticity and traditions.

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