Key Messages: Reducing landslide risk during the monsoon

Key Messages: Reducing landslide risk during the monsoon

1. About 80% of all fatal landslides in Nepal happen during the monsoon, and the peak in landslide activity happens within 4-6 weeks of the start of the monsoon. The impacts of the monsoon then decline through to September and October.

2. Landslides are often, but not always, triggered by prolonged or intense rain. Landslides can occur even after the rain has stopped, and so you should remain vigilant for at least 2-3 days after a heavy rainstorm.

3. Landslides can also occur without any apparent trigger. For this reason, it is essential to minimise the amount of time spent in areas that show signs of landsliding. Some activities, such as farming or animal husbandry, can continue with appropriate vigilance, but use of these areas should be minimised in the daytime and avoided completely at night.

4. Be aware of your surroundings. Unusual noises, rumbling, or dust are all possible indicators of a landslide. Landslides are surprisingly loud, especially in mountain valleys. If you notice these signs, move to an open space and away from river channels and gullies as quickly as possible and wait for these warning signs to stop.

5. Pay attention to changes in the landscape that are common indicators of future landslides, including: cracks in land or roads, changes to the colour or amount of spring flow, springs that appear in previously dry areas, tilting trees or retaining walls, streams that stop flowing, and small stones falling for no apparent reason. If you notice these warnings, minimise the amount of time that you spend in these areas, try to make a note of your observations, and share them with the CDMC and the municipal government.

6. Remember that landslides travel down slope. Make every effort to warn people who are downhill from an area of landslide activity. This could be as simple as a system of telephone calls, shouting, or whistling that is agreed among residents beforehand.

7. The 2015 earthquakes damaged the mountain sides, leaving lots of loose material that can now move down into valleys during rainstorms. Steep river channels are extremely dangerous and should be avoided as much as possible, particularly during rain. Any areas of bare ground where vegetation has been removed by previous landslides are likely to be impacted again and should also be avoided. All houses or other key infrastructure should be kept at least 10 m away from the banks of these channels.

8. Landslides on steep hillslopes are often the source of more landslides over time. You should expect repeated landslides to occur in places where landslides have already happened.

9. Have an emergency bag ready for your family, to prepare for landslides as well as earthquakes. This should contain essential items you will need: a torch and batteries, a small radio, enough dry food such as beaten rice or instant noodles for one day, a plastic bottle of drinking water, a bottle of chlorine drops for purifying drinking water, a basic medical kit and photocopies of your ID cards.

10. Carry a whistle on your person at all times to attract attention in an emergency. Blow the whistle if you are trapped or injured by a landslide, or to communicate with other people that a landslide is occurring.

11. Prepare a landslide evacuation plan with your family. Agree on a meeting point outside your home in a safe open space away from unstable slopes and cliff edges. Establish evacuation routes from your home to the meeting point.

12. You can reduce landslide risk by not cutting down trees, especially above houses and settlements.

13. When selecting where to build houses or other infrastructure, refer to the guidelines on reducing exposure to landslides, available at: Reducing exposure to earthquake-triggered landslides

Download a copy of these key messages here: Monsoon landslide preparedness messages