|Kathmandu, Nepal before and after the earthquake|
By now we have all seen the devastating pictures and video of Saturday April 25th, 7.8 earthquake in Nepal. Nepal is a landlocked country, sandwiched between China and India. Nepal is best-known as home, along with Tibet, to Mount Everest in Mahalangur section of the Himalayas. The scenes are horrifying: whole "...City blocks collapsed, century-old monuments were reduced to rubble and apocalyptic cracks ran through the roads." These are the scenes described by Tanvi Misra in her article for City Lab, "How Urban Planning Failed Kathmandu." Ms. Misra's article looks at how urban planning amplified the disaster in Kathmandu and ponders what comes next. In describing the Kathmandu she visited years ago, Ms. Mirsa laments, "The city I walked through all those years ago no longer exists.
|Large crack in the pavement|
|Nepalese soldier walking through the rubble|
Unplanned urban development in the Kathmandu Valley has led to rapid and uncontrolled sprawl; irregular, substandard, and inaccessible housing development; loss of open space, and decreased livability. It has also increased vulnerability to disasters, making Kathmandu on of the most earthquake-vulnerable cities in the world. (https://www.worldbank.org/en/.../2013/04/.../managing-nepals-urban-urban-transi...)
|Drone images showing the damage in Kathmandu|
Citing the report, Ms. Misra continues, "According to the report, Kathmandu city has been one of the fastest-expanding metropolitan areas in South Asia." Be that as it may, the majority of the growth has not been planned or regulated. For example, "In the rural areas, satellite town have grown without much guidance from the government," Ms. Misra writes, further citing the report. If unchecked sprawl was not bad enough, commercial, retail, residential developments built within the city proper have not followed safety codes that would protect human life during an earthquake. Robert Piper, former resident coordinator for the United Nations in Nepal told the Thompson Reuters Foundation, "The building code is a serious issue. In a place like Kathmandu, a new building pops up every day which is not building to code." Oddly paraphrasing the over used National Rifle Association maxim, "Buildings kill people, not earthquakes." (http://www.trust.org)
|A young monk at "The Monkey Temple" (damaged)|