9 July 2021

A very disruptive start to the summer monsoon in Nepal

Posted by Dave Petley

A very disruptive start to the summer monsoon in Nepal

The summer monsoon is now fully underway in Nepal, bringing heavy rainfall to a large swathe of the country.  The early part of the monsoon has been unusually intense, with large numbers of rainfall-related incidents, including landslides and flood.  According to an article in Khabarhub today, the monsoon has cost 51 lives already, including 10 children.  A further 29 people are reported to be missing.

Nepal now collects and publishes good data on the incidence and costs of disasters via a DRR hub.  In terms of landslides, from 1 June 2021 to 8 July 2021 a total of 135 landslide events have been recorded, leaving 27 people dead and a further 7 missing.  Once again, more than half the people killed in the monsoon have died as a result of landslides.  A further 41 people have been injured.

I have very quickly graphed the cumulative total number of reported landslides since 1 June 2021 (the data runs to 8 July 2021):-

Reported number of landslides in Nepal since 1 June 2021.

The reported number of landslides in Nepal since 1 June 2021. Data from the Nepal DRR portal.


As normal, landslides occur in intense period with comparative calm in between, reflecting the passage of weather systems across the country.  There was an unusual early event around 15 June, and many more since the start of July.

In the last 24 hours, seven people have been killed in monsoon-related events.  The Kathmandu Post reports that:

Three people were killed in a landslide at Jamir village in Naugad Rural Municipality-3 of Darchula district in Sudurpaschim Province on Wednesday night…In Tanahun of Gandaki Province, two persons were killed in a landslide at Dadhiban of Rishing Rural Municipality on Thursday morning, police said…In Palpa, two persons died in separate incidents at Tinau Rural Municipality-5 on Thursday.  Police identified the deceased as Bir Bahadur Gurung, 45, of Hiudekhola and a four-year-old boy of Gittikhani. Gurung was buried when a landslide struck his house at around 3am while the child was swept away by a torrent.

Unfortunately, there is likely to be further events in the coming days.  This is the NASA 3 hour nowcast for landslides in Nepal:

NASA landslide nowcast for 8 UT on 9 July 2021..

NASA landslide nowcast for 08:00 UT on 9 July 2021. Red is a high likelihood, yellow is moderate.


Interestingly, poor road building is increasingly identified as being a major factor in the high incidence of landslides in Nepal.  For example, The Himalayan Times yesterday had a report on landslide impacts in Himali Rural Municipality in Bajura:-

According to Himali Rural Municipality Chairperson Govind Bahadur Malla, 40 families in Faiti village in Ward 4 and 97 families in Kyudi of Ward 5 of Himali Rural Municipality were displaced after the ground in their villages caved in. “The ground in the villages developed cracks and caved in, apparently due to the road dug from below the villages.

While some houses have already crumbled, the others which are still standing are at risk,” said Area Police Office Kolti in-charge Devendra Joshi, who returned after conducting field monitoring of the villages.

The cave-in was caused by the under-construction Rugin-Bichhyan access road built with the provincial government’s investment.

This is a pattern the occurs repeatedly.