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Taming Unnatural Disasters

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

Every year during monsoon season, landslides destroy lives and buildings and roads in Aizawl, India. I am thrilled to announce a game changer.

Aizawl Municipal Council just adopted new regulations that will control how residents dig and build on the city's steep slopes.

This landslide occurred April 2017, after days of rain in Aizawl. VIDEO:

“The geology and rains cause some of the problem here, but cutting into slopes adds to it,” says Lalrinpuii Tlau, GeoHazards International's mitigation specialist in Aizawl.

Thanks to your support, and a generous 4-year grant from Munich Re, we helped the government craft a landslide safety plan. And we trained local geologists, engineers and planners to implement it with confidence.

Geologists and engineers learned to recognize slope hazards in our team's intensive field courses. Photo: Lalrinpuii Tlau

No surprise, Aizawl professionals are enthusiastic to master the "hows and whys" of landslides. The race is on: 300,000 people live there today, with an expected 820,000 by 2031.

“Nearly everyone I’ve met there had a friend or family member who was killed by a landslide,” says Kevin Clahan, principal engineering geologist at Lettis Consultants International and an expert advisor on GHI's team.

Kevin's visits to train geologists make front page and TV news. At right is Lalrinpuii Tlau, our mitigation specialist based in Aizawl.

To help planners identify danger zones, our team created 1:5000-scale landslide hazard maps for the entire Aizawl municipal district--the first community hazard maps in India at such detailed scale.

Why so big? To show risk at the parcel level.

Dr. Ravinder Singh (middle), National Disaster Management Authority landslide consultant, discussing the hazard maps and Aizawl Municipal Council's landslide policy. Photo: Hari Kumar

With these, the city will be able to promote safer land use. The maps pinpoint vulnerable areas, such as slopes with adverse bedding, jointed sandstone and shale layers, and historic or incipient landslides.

F. Lalbiakmawia, Asst. Hydro-Geologist, Government of Mizoram. Photo: Lalrinpuii Tlau

Dozens of hill cities in India and Nepal have serious landslide hazards. The difference in Aizawl is that the government, local experts, and the public now understand a big part of the problem. Together, they're on track to protect lives as their city grows.

How's that for progress?

P.S. We raised $50,219 for the WeCare2017 campaign and won the $50,000 challenge! Thank you, kind supporters.

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