Today we celebrate the United Nations International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (IDDRR). This year’s theme is: "substantially increase availability and access to multi-hazard early warning systems, disaster risk information, and assessments to people by 2030."
This UN target is closely aligned with our approach of working ahead of disasters and providing communities with science-based risk information in a way that is clear and actionable.
From our five country offices, here are some recent examples:
India: Power system vulnerability assessment
In India, we are examining how plausible high-intensity earthquakes could impact the City of Guwahati’s power transmission and distribution systems. Our case studies of potential outages and corresponding impacts on essential services are informing government actions to build seismic resilience into this lifeline infrastructure. In the last 5 years, power demand has tripled in this fast-growing city that is the power hub for the State of Assam.
Nepal: Hospital fire safety assessments
In Nepal (and the Maldives), we are working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to assess fire safety in hospitals and train local assessors. Hospital fire prevention is a huge need, as evidenced by recent fires in COVID-19 wards in South Asia and fires triggered by earthquakes. We are advising practical changes: fire regulations specific to hospitals, fire evacuation planning, simulation exercises based on fire scenarios, and training to use fire extinguishers.
Bhutan: Stakeholders sharing ideas on strategies to improve seismic resilience of buildings
In Bhutan, we co-developed plausible earthquake scenarios for the capital and quantified building damage and casualties. With risk modeling, decision-makers can incorporate potential losses into their pre-event planning, and work to reduce these losses. They can invest in strengthening certain building types and focus on particularly vulnerable areas of the city. We are also collaborating with the government to raise awareness of geohazards across the country and inform people how to protect themselves during earthquakes and other emergencies.
Haiti: Slam poetry performances highlighting disaster safety
In Haiti, our efforts in the North empower young people to promote disaster resilience in their own community. They share safety messaging using fresh and creative methods, like slam poetry contests and videos. Everyone listens. Who would ignore these energetic and informed youth highlighting how to prepare for earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, and other coastal hazards?
Dominican Republic: Sharing science-based information about preparing for disasters
In the Dominican Republic, we created materials that use plain language to explain earthquake impacts and how to plan safer outcomes. Our focus is “the last mile,” communities underserved as far as strategies to prepare for major hazards. We are knocking on doors and having conversations, and reaching out through churches and schools.
Global: Recent workshop for ongoing project that focuses on advancing the effectiveness and use of hazard scenarios
Globally, our team is leading a study on earthquake, landslide, and volcano scenarios and how they can better motivate local action. The overarching question is: How do we improve and advance the use of scenarios, so that we can better serve at-risk communities? In addition to a global literature review, the multi-year effort includes 150 interviews with decision-makers, risk managers, hazards scientists, and engineers in four countries that have either used or developed scenarios. We’re excited to share findings with you next year.
Disaster risk reduction starts with a science-based
understanding of what could go wrong, followed by
actions that can prevent such tragedies.
Many thanks to our global community of supporters for helping to bring critical information to communities at risk. Our dedicated team is bolstered by a network of engaged partners and committed donors. We couldn’t do it without this support.
Veronica Cedillos, President & CEO GeoHazards International
Bhutan · Dominican Republic · Haiti · India · Nepal · U.S.A.