EGU2020-6443, updated on 12 Jun 2020
EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Using Open Data and Citizen Science in Understanding Disaster Risk: Experience from Western parts of Nepal

Puja Shakya and Binod Prasad Parajuli
Puja Shakya and Binod Prasad Parajuli
  • Practical Action Consulting South Asia (

Nepal is highly vulnerable to multiple disasters due to its topography and geographic conditions. It also suffers with data deficiency in better understanding the impacts of disasters and existing capacities to cope with such disasters. This information scarcity severely hinders understanding the disasters and their associated risks in the areas. This also hampers local and regional risk reduction, preparedness and response, limiting rigorous and robust disaster risk modelling and assessment. For regions facing recurrent disaster, there is a strong need of more integrated and proactive perspective into the management of disaster risks and innovations. Recent advances on digital and spatial technologies, citizen science and open data are introducing opportunities through prompt data collection, analysis and visualization of locally relevant spatial data. These data could be used as evidence in local development planning as well as linking in different services of the areas. This will be helpful for sustained investment in disaster risk management and resilience building. In current federal structure of Nepal, there is an acute data deficiency at the local level (municipalities and wards) in terms of data about situation analysis, demographics, and statistics, disaster impacts (hazard, exposure and vulnerability) etc. This has caused hindrances to all the relevant stakeholders including government, non-government and donors in diagnosing the available resources, capacities for effective planning and managing disaster risks. In this context, we are piloting an approach to fulfil existing data gaps by mobilizing citizen science through the use of open data sources in Western Nepal. We have already tested it through trainings to the local authorities and the communities in using open data for data collection. Likewise, in one of our upcoming project on data innovations, we shall create a repository of available open data sources; develop analytical tools for risk assessment which will be able to provide climate related services. Later, upon testing the tools, these can be implemented at the local level for informed decision making.

How to cite: Shakya, P. and Parajuli, B. P.: Using Open Data and Citizen Science in Understanding Disaster Risk: Experience from Western parts of Nepal, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-6443,, 2020


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  • CC1: Challenges in rural contexts, Juan Carlo Intriago Zambrano, 07 May 2020

    Thank you very much for the provided material related to your project. In the poster, you mentioned that one of the challenges for Citizen Science in Nepal is the "rural context". Do you refer to access to technology, illiteracy, remoteness, lack of connectivity? Could you please elaborate more on that?

    • AC1: Reply to CC1, Puja Shakya, 08 May 2020

      Hi, Thank you for your comment.

      The project sites where we conducted the citizen science were in very remote areas of Nepal- the rural areas. During our activities we had challenges of internet connectivity and electricity problem. It was very difficult for us to show some of the materials that we prepared for the activity- the audio-visual materials. We felt that it would have been much effective if we could show some of those materials during the activity. We oriented them to collect rainfall data, however, we had a challenge of getting those data from the area to us for data analysis. In addition, due to irregular classes operation in the school of the rural areas, it was challenging for us to continue the lessons of the citizen science activity. Above all, the lack of awareness in the rural areas to bring in the community/local people for any scientific study, is challenging always- as they feel no incentives to get out of the study, while in other implementing development projects they can get.

      • CC2: Reply to AC1, Juan Carlo Intriago Zambrano, 08 May 2020

        Thank you very much for your prompt reply. Certainly those are very interesting insights. As part of my current research, I have conducted fieldwork with Nepali smallholders in Sindhuli and Ramechhap, and I find the uncertainties / limitations you pointed out as quite relatable. Have you and your team considered some strategies to cope with those challenges?

        • AC2: Reply to CC2, Puja Shakya, 08 May 2020

          Thanks Juan for your comments and interest in our work. 

          In order to tackle with the challenges of electricity and internet, we took the batteries as back up as well as mobile data packages (data transfer devices too), which was very helpful in our second attempt to conduct citizen science activities. Additionally, we were also prepared during the first visit too with the posters, IEC amterials as display materials during orientation, as we know the situation and contect there beforehand. We translated the maps and other orientation materials into Nepali Language, which was found attractive by the participants. This encouraged them to participate interestingly as they could understand the things easily and have got the reading/display material on hand. Regarding the incentives, we provided them with some of the educational materials to be used in the school and also provided some amount of money for data collectors based on the data type. For example: one month of data collection- Rs 500 will be paid. Moreover, we also provided them mobile recharge cards for contacting us and sharing the collected data. 

          One of the strategy that we applied to make them aware about the research uses- was orient them on how the data generated could be used in their local development plans. once they understood how useful the scientific data are, they were easily convinced to take part in our activities. Likewise, one of best other option is to make them involve in the study from the beginning of the project, for instance, we took them to the sites and even for site selection too. In addition, after the new governance structure in Nepal, local government has mandate for development of their own areas, so engaging the local government in our research work from the beginning of the project was found much helpful for us to overcome the challenges that we had during initial days of our work. 





          • CC3: Reply to AC2, Juan Carlo Intriago Zambrano, 11 May 2020

            Dear Puja,

            Thank you very much for such a comprehensive explanation on a quite interesting set of strategies for coping with potential limitations that might arise during your fieldwork. I hope next time I conduct another fieldwork round in Nepal I could visit you and your colleages in Practical Action Nepal; I am highly interested in learning from your experiences. If you agree, I would like to contact you by email.

            • AC3: Reply to CC3, Puja Shakya, 12 May 2020

              Sure, Please! Do you have my email ID?