Past research and projects

mid hills | Nepal

Disasters and Community Resilience in Mid-Hills Nepal

Project Background

In spring of 2015, Nepal was struck by a string of massive earthquakes and a series of aftershocks causing about 9,000 deaths, 23,000 injuries and the destruction of 600,000 family homes (National Planning Commission 2015).  Damages amounted to over one-third of the national GDP.  Disasters affect communities asymmetrically and rural subsistence-based populations are typically among the most vulnerable (Freeman 2000, Cutter et al 2006, Wisner et al 2013).  In this case, mid-montane farming communities near the epicenters in Nepal were devastated. 

In collaboration with the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Bergen, and ForestAction Nepal, we assessed the social and ecological transitions and recovery in communities near the epicenters of the 2015 earthquakes. Funding for this research was provided by the American Alpine Club and the Peder Sather Fellowship, a joint collaborative of the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Bergen.  Our fieldwork, completed over spring and summer 2016, contributed to two projects and several publications described below.  

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Agricultural transition and cardamom Adoption

Project overview

How do environmental shocks, like earthquakes, impact on-going agricultural transitions? Rural families respond to shocks and the resulting shifting crop, labor, and ecological conditions within a complex landscape of decision variables and recovery interventions. In Dolakha district, we find that the economic and environmental co-benefits encourage the adoption of cardamom, Amomum subulatum, a high-value cash crop, which adds to an increasingly cash-oriented farming landscape. Our publication examines the "charismatic" qualities of cardamom, and the rise of cardamom as an economic strategy and development tool. 

Related publications

DiCarlo, J., Epstein, K., Marsh, R., and Maren, I. 2018. Post-disaster agricultural transition. AMBIO.

Community Resilience and Smallholder Perspectives

Project overview

How do smallholder communities recover from environmental shocks like earthquakes? This project studies the multi-dimensional impacts of the 2015 earthquakes on smallholder communities and the extent to which the impacts and capacities to recover varied across farm households. Using a mixed-methods approach including interviews, focus groups, a structured questionnaire and resilience-assessment tool we catalogue the widespread damage to subsistence agricultural practices and examine the different perceptions of trajectories of recovery.  We find that the earthquake has accelerated ongoing transitions to cash crop adoption, and that even within the generally vulnerable smallholder group, there is significant heterogeneity in post-disaster coping and recovery capacity. 

Related publications

Research Summary: Adaptation and recovery after the 2015 Nepal Earthquakes. 2017. Published by ForestAction, Nepal

Epstein, K., DiCarlo, J., Marsh, R., Ray, I., and Maren, I. 2017. Coping Strategies of Smallholder Farming Communities after the 2015 Nepal Earthquake: Insights into Post-Disaster Resilience and Social-Ecological Change. Case Studies in the Environment.

Epstein, K., DiCarlo, J., Marsh, R., Adhikari, B., Paudel, D., Ray, I., and Maren, I. 2018. Adaptation and Recovery after the 2015 Nepal Earthquakes: A Smallholder Household Perspective. Ecology and Society. 23(1). 

Intermountain WEsT | USA

Related publications

Epstein, K., Smutko, S., & Western, J. 2016. From Vision to Reality: Emerging Public Opinion of Collaborative Management in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (in revision).

Epstein, K. 2015. Cumbersome Collaboration: Unpacking the politics of ecosystem management in the Greater Yellowstone.

Epstein, K. 2015. Reducing environmental conflict through participatory and community-driven management; An assessment of the Greater Yellowstone (proposal).

Epstein, K. 2014. Utilizing private landowner conservation values within transnational conservation movements (NSF, GRFP: Honorable Mention ).

Western China and the TIBETAN PLATEAU

Related REPORTS & publications

DiCarlo, J. 2015. Transboundary conservation and placemaking: The Kailash sacred landscape conservation and development initiative (proposal).

DiCarlo, J. 2015. 'Science' of Tibetan medicine: A politics of knowledge production.

DiCarlo, J. 2014. Reach In and Reach Out: Tuberculosis on the Tibetan Plateau (policy brief).

DiCarlo, J. 2013. Entrepreneurship and Social Enterprise in Tibetan Communities in Yunnan.

DiCarlo, J. 2013. Rural health trainings in Kham TibetDiCarlo, J. 2013. Sexual and reproductive health training in Shangri-la, Yunnan.

DiCarlo, J. 2013. Nixi Pottery Initiative in Shangri-la, Yunnan, China.


 Photo Credit: Jake McClendon

Photo Credit: Jake McClendon

Related publications

Epstein, K. 2010. At Home in the Hills: Sense of place, landscape and identity in Eastern Kentucky coal communities.

Epstein, K. 2010. Between Person and Place: Conservation histories from the Kennebec Land Trust | Epstein 2010

 Photo Credit : Jane Davis, 2009

Photo Credit : Jane Davis, 2009

Bangalore, Delhi and Ladakh | India

Related publications and Reports

DiCarlo, J., Gopakumar, S., Krishnan, S., and Dhillan, P.K. 2016. Adoption of information and communication technologies for early detection of breast and cervical cancers in low- and middle-income countries. Journal of Global Oncology. 

DiCarlo, J. 2014. Diagnosis and treatment of tuberculosis in Ladakh, India:  A regional comparison to support preventative and curative health measures (research proposal).

DiCarlo, J. 2015. Impact evaluation on the provision of messaging for breast cancer screening via SMS versus community health workers in Thiruvananthapuram district of India (study design).

DiCarlo, J. 2015. Human papillomavirus vaccination for cervical cancer prevention in rural India (policy brief).

DiCarlo, J. 2015. Survey analysis on gender and reproductive health in Karnataka, India.


 Photo Credit: Eptein

Photo Credit: Eptein

Related publications

Epstein, K. 2008. Building a Better Cup: Best practices for technology adoption in shade grown coffee cultivation in Chiriquí, Panama.

South Africa

Related publications

DiCarlo, J. et al. 2006. Democratization and Development in Post-apartheid South Africa: Examining the truth and reconciliation commission.

Climate & Adaptation

 Photo Credit: Mike MacDonald

Photo Credit: Mike MacDonald

Related Reports and PResentations

DiCarlo, J. and Ward, R. 2016. Why biodiversity matters: co-benefits for health and climate change

DiCarlo, J. and Rogozen, N. 2016. Conflict, climate change and health (presentation).

DiCarlo, J. 2014. Dignity & equity in climate-driven migration (policy brief).

DiCarlo, J. 2016. Strategy for governing life: a theoretical exploration of resilience and dispossession.

Central Asia

 Photo Credit: DiCarlo

Photo Credit: DiCarlo

California | USA

 Sierra Nevada © DiCarlo 2015

Sierra Nevada © DiCarlo 2015

Related Reports

Epstein, K. 2015. Reclaiming on the Klamath: Socioecological resilience and the Karuk Tribe.

DiCarlo, J. 2014. Forests and Climate Change in California (policy brief).

DiCarlo, J. 2014. Paying for Water in California: A PPIC Report Summary (policy brief).