I hope you and your loved ones are staying safe and healthy during this time of crisis. Our global GHI team members are healthy at the time of writing and our highest priority is to keep it that way. With offices in six countries, we are closely feeling the worldwide impacts of COVID-19.
In many ways, our operations have not changed dramatically. Our close-knit but far-flung team is accustomed to communicating via WhatsApp several times each day and holding virtual meetings all week. Like you, we’re adapting to rapidly changing conditions, such as lockdowns this week in India and Nepal. Fieldwork and in-person stakeholder meetings are postponed. And although this is manageable for now, we do run the risk of being significantly affected if things don't improve over the next 2 months.
Our team is actively working to navigate the COVID-19 crisis while also advancing our programs to foster safer communities. We are focusing on activities that can be done virtually or with social distance, such as collecting and reviewing technical information, identifying gaps in local knowledge, and developing outreach materials. For example:
GHI's Haiti team is developing materials for a 3-year project, just launched, that engages youth in disaster preparedness. Our Haiti Representative, a medical doctor, plans to continue her radio call-in show about public health and disaster resilience.
GHI’s Dominican Republic Representative is completing a resource book in Spanish that explains in clear language the local earthquake risk and steps people can take now to be safer. Families have lacked such a resource to help them prepare.
GHI is gearing up, virtually, to start two new projects on earthquake safety and climate change adaptation in India.
GHI’s National Coordinator in Bhutan is assembling data to model earthquake impacts and to quantify potential building damage in the capital. This information will assist the government in prioritizing specific mitigation investments.
GHI’s Nepal team is initiating a school safety program in the far west and will be working there with local partner organizations.
It’s likely that this virus will impact emerging economies even more severely than well-off economies, as with other disasters. This will deplete their ability to withstand other crises that will continue to happen, such as earthquakes, landslides, tsunamis, and climate-induced hazards. If anything, this crisis has highlighted the importance of our preventative and proactive approach for almost 30 years.
These are trying times for everyone. We face the hard reality that delays due to society-wide shutdowns may affect our ability to work and our short-term cash flow. Your support now matters more than ever.
We are grateful for your commitment to our mission and organization. Please keep in touch—we welcome your notes always, and especially now.
Wishing you health and safety,
Veronica Cedillos, President
and the GeoHazards International Team
Haiti · Dominican Republic · India · Bhutan · Nepal · U.S.A.