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Discussion papers | Copyright
© Author(s) 2018. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Brief communication 22 Jan 2018

Brief communication | 22 Jan 2018

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This discussion paper is a preprint. A revision of the manuscript is under review for the journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences (NHESS).

Brief Communication: Vehicles for development or disaster? The new Silk Route, landslides and geopolitics in Nepal

Karen Sudmeier-Rieux1, Brian G. McAdoo2, Sanjaya Devkota3, and Purna Lal Chandra Rajbhandari4 Karen Sudmeier-Rieux et al.
  • 1University of Lausanne, Switzerland
  • 2Yale-NUS College, Singapore
  • 3Tribhuvan University, Nepal
  • 4Independent, Kathmandu, Nepal

Abstract. The One Belt, One Road (OBOR) policy, one of China's most ambitious foreign investment and policy initiatives, portends significant changes in the social, cultural and critically, the physical landscape of Nepal, which became a signatory in May 2017. The small, mountainous nation is sandwiched between the massive Indian and Chinese economies and the roads that link these two signify vehicles of change. There are plans for expanding several major trunk roads to pass from Tibet to India along existing routes that are already being impacted by increased trade, and the recent landslide victory of the left alliance (Communist and Maoists Centre) auger greater openness toward China. Rural villages adjacent to these roads will undoubtedly continue to tie into these roads via a network of poorly constructed feeder (rural) roads which are likely to increase environmental, economic and human risks associated with roadside landslides. This commentary elaborates on the above issues based on research on the occurrence of roads and landslides in Nepal with recommendations for improved road governance.

Karen Sudmeier-Rieux et al.
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Karen Sudmeier-Rieux et al.
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Short summary
This article discusses how Nepal's development, landslide risk and geopolitics are intertwined as the country seeks to expand its road networks. However, rural villages adjacent to major roads have developed their own network of poorly constructed rural roads, which are likely to increase environmental and socio-economic risks associated with roadside landslides. We base our observations on research conducted over a decade in Nepal, with reference to new research on roads and landslides.
This article discusses how Nepal's development, landslide risk and geopolitics are intertwined...