Chandika Shrestha


Shresta

The Geography of post disaster health: Spatial patterning of vulnerability and resilience factors after the Gorkha earthquake in Nepal, 2015


Biography

Chandika Shrestha from Nepal, worked as a Public health practitioner before joining Durham University for her higher degrees. She completed her undergraduate degree in Public Health from Institute of Medicine, Tribhuvan University Nepal in 2009.  Since then, she have been involved in Public Health sector in one way or the other. She took up different roles in research and also in working with communities at community level. She worked with National health research body, Nepal Health Research Council and different International Non-Government Organisations (INGOs) such Mission East, a Danish Organisation and Medical emergency relief international (Merlin) in Nepal, a multinational organisation. While working for those organisation, she had experience of working in remotest part of the country. She have always been interested in wider population health and working in remote parts of the country to serve people in desperate need to promote their health and wellbeing.


After working four years with the people in the community, Chandika realised that her current academic degree and experience are not going to suffice to meet the requirements that she have envisioned, that are expected of a mature and bankable broad minded professional.


Thus, she pursued her Master’s degree in Risk, Health and Public Policy in Durham University in 2014. This degree has broaden her horizon in term of geographical domain of health and she could so much relate to what she experience during her work in field. Her interest, then deviated much more on the importance of place on people’s overall health and wellbeing. After massive earthquake stroke Nepal in 2015, which devastated not only her but her whole nation. She could feel people of the people there. Despite all the trauma, people have people have been through, they do not stop smiling and moving ahead, especially the women in the village who already had triple burden of domestic and career work, agricultural work and managing house as most of the males in the villages are abroad to ease some pain of living in search of labour. She was so concerned that women had such a tough rural life and the earthquake that struck left them in despair along with added burden of recovery, reconstruction. When she searched literature on post-disaster life, she could mostly read about how and why women suffer disproportionately in the aftermath, how women are psychologically vulnerable. Then, she thought why people always only explore of negative perspective? She have seen happy faces in the villages despite of all odds in life. She then was very interested to research about what mould these vulnerable people in shattered surroundings to be tough and stay calm and carry on? This is what ignites her interest in doing PhD. She developed her proposal and desperately searched for funding to do her PhD research as it was a distant dream for a middle classed girl from a developing country to do on her own.


Luckily, this dream started to become a reality by the generous funding of the Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation in collaboration with Institute of Hazard Risk and Resilience at the Department of Geography, Durham University in January 2016. Therefore, currently she is researching “Post-disaster health and wellbeing of women; A case study of Gorkha earthquake 2015, Nepal.” Chandika is trying to explore what matters for psychosocial wellbeing of survivor women in long-term recovery and resilience living in a shattered places, especially when reconstruction of houses is painfully slow. Nearly only about 50% reconstruction was completed after three years and still nearly 40% of people are living in make shift temporary shelters. Her work concentrate on what help them to move forward in their post disaster life, various individual, community and wider factors. This research complements and extends existing gender-related disaster studies in three ways. First, it pays attention to the differentiated experiences of disaster and recovery within a gender category, that of women. Secondly, it pays attention to the psychological expression of disasters and disaster recovery processes. Thirdly, it gives particular attention to processes of coping or resilience in adversity.


Hence, Chandika’s research interests are population health and wellbeing, gender dimension of risk and resilience, adaptive capacity in context of crisis, disaster and sustainable development. This engages multidisciplinary issues of environment and society, environmental and disaster management and wider population health. She has applied more focus to health and wellbeing, and community based strategies. She is trying to fulfil some knowledge gap on societal and scientific rebalancing in changing environments.


At the moment, Chandika is very happy and enjoying a lot with what she is doing, despite of all other challenges of being an international student and a mother struggling to balance between her family life as well student life. Her future plan is to reach out the less-fortunate people living in despair environment, and help them to improve their wellbeing by application of her academic vision into tangible outcome-producing interventions.

If you are interested to know more about her work, visit the work she has published below or contact her at given address


Research

Chandika started her PhD at the Department of Geography in January 2016. She is researching post-disaster health and wellbeing of women in Nepal; A case study of Gorkha earthquake 2015. Her scholarship explores what matters for psychosocial wellbeing of survivor women for their long-term recovery and resilience. Her work concentrate on what help them to move forward in their post disaster life, various individual, community and wider factors.  This research complements and extends existing gender-related disaster studies in three ways. First, it pays attention to the differentiated experiences of disaster and recovery within a gender category, that of women. Secondly, it pays attention to the psychological expression of disasters and disaster recovery processes. Thirdly, it gives particular attention to processes of coping or resilience in adversity.


Chandika’s study site is Dolakha district, one of the hardest hit mountainous districts of Nepal. Her research uses mixed method approach. Initially she conducted qualitative surveys that then fed into a large quantitative survey of 667 households. She conducted 10 focus group discussions with women of different backgrounds and ethnicities. 10 key informant interviews with different relevant stakeholders at district and local level and a few in-depth interviews with survivor women were also conducted. In the current Ph.D. research she has completed all her fieldwork and data collection. She is now analysing the large data set that she has collected and is trying to start writing up as soon as possible. Chandika is also developing a short documentary based on her research.


Publications

Individually and professionally, I have been a part of various research and the following two are part of my work:

Reach me @
Chandika Shrestha,
Department of Geography, Durham University,
Chandika.shrestha@durham.ac.uk
Twitter@chandikashrest1