The people of India face effects of disasters on many fronts. India is the world’s most populous country and is also one of the most disaster-prone nations in the world. A large earthquake, a super cyclone, or extreme heat and drought have each caused widespread devastation, impoverishing hardships, and migration. Hundreds if not thousands of people suffered the impacts.
People who live along India’s densely-populated and extensive coastline experience cyclones, occasional tsunamis, storm surge, sea level rise, and erosion. Five severe cyclones hit India in 2020 alone. Flooding impacts people in many states each year, an outcome of monsoon rains, storms, cloudbursts, and silted river systems. Global climate change is expected to intensify the impacts of these hazards.
Our programs are helping communities build resilience ahead of such threats. With GeoHazards Society, our India-based partner organization, we work alongside local technical professionals, government officials, and leaders on proactive preparedness and mitigation.
National and international aid agencies, corporations, and family foundations have funded these programs in 18 states. Our India staff members are based in Delhi since 2005, Mizoram since 2012, and Kerala since 2020. Our most recent programs are in these locations as well as Assam and Nagaland. Our multi-year efforts emphasize:
Hill cities prone to earthquakes and landslides: In the North and North East, and extensively in Aizawl, Mizoram, we are addressing landslides and earthquakes in rapidly developing hill cities. Landslides take lives every year and often occur on saturated or fragile slopes during monsoon season. An earthquake could trigger many landslides at once. Our approaches include disaster scenarios, policy to manage development on fragile slopes, detailed landslide hazard mapping, planning for disaster-resilient infrastructure (water, power, roads, communications), and supporting a network of local technical professionals to manage their city’s challenges. Aizawl’s progress is cited by India’s National Disaster Management Authority as a model to apply hazard considerations in urban development.
Climate and disaster resilience: In densely populated Kerala, distinct geographic zones are prone to significant but different disasters. The compound impacts of climate change on landslides in the highlands, flooding in the midlands, and coastal hazards along the extensive shoreline need to be addressed. Our approaches include landslide risk reduction efforts, building regulations improvements, and risk-sensitive land use. We are working with KILA (Kerala Institute for Local Administration) to arm local government officials with up-to-date climate science so that they can make planning, zoning, infrastructure, and adaptation decisions to protect against future climate-driven risks.
Landmark seismic safety initiatives at the national level: We spearheaded landmark seismic retrofitting projects for lifeline buildings in Delhi, engineering training and mentoring for seismic-resilient construction, mason training, and national initiatives for disaster readiness of hospitals and schools.
India’s Resilience Roadmap: India is on its way to uphold its commitments to three significant agreements: the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Climate Agreement, and the Sustainable Development Goals. We take immense pride in contributing to the resilience-building endeavors of the diverse nation, where sustainable development is fostered through the collaborative efforts of government agencies, non-governmental organizations like ours, and local communities.