Effects of the classification system in international SAR: The case of the 2015 Nepal earthquake

Yosuke Okita, Rajib Shaw

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to analyse if the classification system introduced by International Search and Rescue Advisory Group (INSARAG), or INSARAG External Classification (IEC), contributes to effective international search and rescue (SAR) activities in the 2015 Nepal earthquake. Design/methodology/approach: In addition to the data collected by Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the United Nations Disaster Assessment and Coordination (UNDAC) team, the data were collected by one of the authors who was deployed to Nepal as part of the UNDAC just after the earthquake. Interviews with the deployed international SAR teams and the INSARAG Secretariat were also conducted. Findings: Although more than 50 teams have been classified in IEC, some IEC-classified teams could not utilise their full capabilities in the Nepal response. For example, they did not necessarily arrive in Nepal earlier than the non-classified teams, but it was because the affected country did not prioritise the IEC-classified teams. To save more lives by international teams, INSARAG will need to raise the awareness of IEC in receiving countries, consider the good regional balance of IEC-classified teams and facilitate strengthening local SAR capabilities through the IEC process. Originality/value: The added value of this study is, by combining the evidence-based field reality and academic analysis, to find out the existing problems in the field and to provide tangible recommendations for further improvement of the IEC system, which will then lead to saving more lives.

Original languageEnglish
JournalDisaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jan 1


  • 2015 Nepal earthquake
  • International disaster relief
  • Search and rescue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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