All posts by Karen Sudmeier-Rieux

Post-earthquake Nepal

UNIL Risk Group recently returned from a two week field visit to Nepal where we were involved in two activities: The follow up of research and contributing to a workshop on landslides. The research component was to continue our study on land use trends, road construction and landslides in the Phewa Watershed near Pokhara, Nepal and monitoring of three bio-engineering sites with the project EPIC. The April 2015 earthquake had not affected this area so much, however on July 29 there was a large rainfall event (around 250 mm TBC) which caused around 50 landslide events and 9 casualties. We also visited earthquake affected areas in Sindhulpulchok where our group had conducted previous research on landslides.

The second purpose for our visit was to present our work on “Eco-Safe Roads” at a workshop “Consultative workshop on Landslide inventory, risk assessments and mitigation in Nepal” organized by the Government of Nepal with UNEP and other international organizations on September 28-29, 2015 at ICIMOD.
For more information:

Debris flow Phewa Watershed causing 9 causalities
Sindhulpalchok post earthquake damage
Sindhulpalchok post earthquake damage

UNIL-IUCN-UNEP workshop in Nepal concludes minutes before earthquake struck

A joint IUCN – UNEP – University of Lausanne workshop in Kathmandu and Pokhara, Nepal on the topic of Ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction was held April 21-25, 2015. The main objective on the workshop was to engage with policy makers about the importance of disaster prevention with a focus on “Eco-safe roads” in Nepal. Policy makers were invited to visit the three EPIC roadside bio-engineering sites in the Pokhara / Panchase area district. The last site visit in Bhat Khola village, Syangja District concluded five minutes before the 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck. Fortunately none of the residents of Bhat Khola were injured nor were any of the workshop participants. Many others were less fortunate and our thoughts are with the victims and affected people of Nepal. We can only hope that this tragedy leads to lessons learned and concrete actions for improved post-disaster management and a more prevention-oriented disaster management approach in Nepal.

MOOC reaches 11,000 + enrollments

The Massive Open On-line Course (MOOC), “Disasters and Ecosystems: Resilience in a Changing Climate”, co-developed by the United Nations Environment Programme and UNIL-ISTE researcher Dr. Karen Sudmeier has reached over 11,000 enrollments from 183 countries from around the world. The MOOC is targeting disaster, development and environment professionals and students and is a free of charge course currently in its 6th week, with 9 more weeks to go. Enrollments are still open and can be accessed at:

Announcing “Disasters and Ecosystems: Resilience in a Changing Climate”, a new Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) to be launched 12 January, 2015

This Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) covers a broad range of topics from disaster management, climate change, ecosystem management and community resilience. How these issues are linked and how well-managed ecosystems enhance resilience to natural disasters and climate change impacts are the core theme of the course.

The MOOC is designed at two levels: the leadership track, with the first 6 units providing general introduction to the fundamental concepts, which is suitable for people from all backgrounds who wish to have a basic undertaking of the topic. The second level, or expert track comprises 15 units with more in depth learning on the various tools of ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. The course runs over 13 weeks and is free of charge. Check it out!

New weather stations and LIDAR scans in Nepal

A team from UNIL Risk Analysis Group recently conducted a field study trip in the Pokhara area of Western Nepal, where UNIL (in collaboration with IUCN) is establishing three bio-engineering sites along three road segments with erosion/shallow landslide problems. The purpose is to demonstrate low-cost bio-engineering measures combining simple civil engineering and vegetative solutions in collaboration with local communities. Each site now has an automated weather station and plant test plots are being established to test drought resistance. The team also visited and scanned a recent large landslide (6 million m3) named Mankha/Sun Koshi River landslide which killed 145 people.