The physical exposure of communities in the Himalaya to hazards is partly shaped by geographic patterns of urban settlement in hazard-prone landscapes as well as the socio-political, economic and health conditions of households and communities. Political tensions, ethnic conflict, disputes, and poor governance are just some examples of stressed political environments where local institutions and processes are not be able to respond to shocks. Moreover, communities living in economically dire conditions have limited coping capacities. Urbanization and associated land change can exacerbate vulnerability to disaster risk. Informal settlements and refugee communities are often located on marginal lands. Coupled with unsafe building structures, these communities could have elevated exposure to hazards. Our working hypothesis is that areas with large variations in the temporal signature of urban land use change are increasing the vulnerability of the region and its communities to extreme climate events such as floods and landslides, as well as other hazards such as earthquakes. Moreover, we hypothesize that the construction of buildings, deep roadcuts in steep hillsides, and unplanned urban development, all of which require cutting into bedrock or crossing geologically weak areas, have resulted in increased and more severe occurrences of hillside collapse, landslides, debris flows, and rock slides.