REGARD (REbuildinG AfteR Displacement), was co-funded by an EU Erasmus+ programme grant, and was led by the University of Huddersfield’s Global Disaster Resilience Centre, based in the UK. They are joined by a consortium of five higher education institutions from four countries in Europe and Asia. This three-year research initiative was linked to develop competencies in rebuilding communities following a disaster and conflict induced mass displacements from the perspective of the built environment (BE).
A new project funded by the European Union aims to strengthen research and innovation capacity for the development of societal resilience to disasters. The project, called CABARET (Capacity Building in Asia for Resilience EducaTion), will provide support to build capacity for international and regional cooperation between Higher Education Institutes (HEIs) in Asia (region 6) and Europe, and among Asian HEIs themselves, to improve multi-hazard early warning (MHEW) and increase disaster resilience among coastal communities.
Experience over recent years of the impacts of tsunamis has shown that inadequate preparation for, and response to, emergency situations have contributed to widespread damage and the avoidable loss of lives and livelihoods. The shortcomings in preparation have been due to a lack of warning through poor regional detection and communication systems, but also reflects inadequate awareness, planning and coordination.
The process of disseminating tsunami early warning (TEW) information is complex as it involves a wide array of jurisdictional agencies and response partners, including national contact points, specialist agencies, and sub-national emergency operational centres and related actors. Limitations in preparedness and early warning have been exposed by the recent tsunami events in the Indian Ocean, which highlighted the need to build capacity to address tsunami and other coastal hazards, including multi-hazard and cascading threats, such as submarine landslides and liquefaction.
Multi-Hazard Early Warnings (MHEWs) emerged as a foremost component in Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) mechanism. The Sendai Framework for DRR (2015-2030) highlights the prominence of MHEWs by indicating it in one of its seven targets. Under this mechanism, the accurate and timely flow of information is vital so as to function the proper systematic behavior of MHEWs. Technological applications can be vividly incorporated along with the components in MHEW mechanism to upgrade the level of effectiveness. However, the applicability of such mechanisms for MHEWS seems to have inadequately utilized in many of the countries in the world.
Having been ranked at 63 in the World Risk Report 2017 on natural hazard risk driven vulnerability, Sri Lanka is undoubtedly one of such top countries which are disaster prone. Having a look at the statistics of recent years, during the period of 1st January to 31st December 2017, a total of 135,000 people was displaced due to natural hazards (International Disasplacement Monitoring Center- Sri Lanka, 2017). 49,364 families and 188,328 individuals have been affected by flooding and landslides during the year of 2018. (According to the National Disaster Relief Service Centre, 2018). Given the extent of property and human damages these hazards caused, relocation has been recognised as one of the options in the aftermath. However, research studies have shown that resettlement efforts following a natural hazard are often uncoordinated, inefficiently managed, poorly planned, and inadequately financed turning these projects into “Development Disasters’’. Therefore, an evaluation of existing post-disaster resettlement strategies is a timely requirement which will enable the identification and implementation of a much more effective and efficient resettlement mechanism.
After the Indian Ocean Tsunami in 2004, tsunami preparedness has become a significant aspect in the research and practise of disaster resilience. As a result, a tsunami early warning and mitigation system was introduced in the Indian ocean region for the first time and the system became fully operational in 2013. These systems typically entail upstream and downstream processes. After the detection of tsunami by the warning centre, the regional tsunami service provider communicates the warning to national tsunami warning centre (NTWC) in each country. This is the upstream end of the mechanism. The downstream process occurs at the national and local levels in which evacuation decision and the warning are disseminated to the community.
Experience over recent years of the impacts of tsunamis has shown that inadequate preparation for, and response to, emergency situations have contributed to widespread damage and the avoidable loss of lives and livelihoods. A 2015 United Nations (UN) report estimates that each year, an additional 60,000 people and $4 billion (US$) in assets are exposed to the threat of tsunami hazard. As demonstrated by the human and economic losses from the 2004 Indian Ocean and 2011 Tōhoku disasters, and most recently in Palu, Indonesia, tsunamis inflict death and damage through violent, powerful flooding along the world's coastline. The shortcomings in preparation have been due to a lack of warning through poor regional detection and communication systems, but they also reflect inadequate awareness, planning and coordination.
The ongoing COVID-19 outbreak is an unprecedented event in modern human history. While the World Health Organisation has declared COVID-19 a pandemic, its underlying factors, vulnerabilities and impacts go far beyond the health sector. It is an example of systemic risk: when a hazard leads not only to negative effects in parts of the system but also threatens the failure of the entire system. With its cascading and devastating impacts, COVID-19 demonstrates the inter-connected nature of risks, highlighting the urgent need for a concerted global effort to accelerate risk reduction activities.
The global spread of COVID-19 has overwhelmed health systems, but also caused widespread social and economic disruption. By putting societies and economies on hold, many countries have curtailed the ability of the virus to spread. These defensive measures have helped to limit the short-term impacts, but also resulted in a shift of priorities, alterations in work processes and venues, physical distancing, self-isolation and quarantine measures, as well as temporary lockdowns. These tend to disproportionately affect disadvantaged groups, including people in poverty and migrants, who most often live in overcrowded and under resourced settings, and depend on daily labour for subsistence.
Many countries now recognise the need for improved pandemic preparedness. The WHO has declared COVID-19 a pandemic, but its underlying factors, vulnerabilities and impacts go far beyond the health sector. COVID-19 has overwhelmed health systems and caused widespread social & economic disruption in Sri Lanka, including an estimated Rs 900billion / 6% GDP to the economy, especially the tourism, agriculture, garment and service sectors.
University of HUddersfield partnering with five Sri Lankan Universities (university of Ruhuna, university of Moratuwa, university of Colombo, university of Sri Jayawardhanapura and sabaragamuwa university of Sri Lanka) and one other UK university (university of Central Lancashire) and two European universities ( Vilnius University, Lithuania, and Tallin university of technology, Estonia) will be involved to develop “Building Resilience in Tropical Agro-Ecosystems” (BRITAE) to address capacity building in Interdisciplinary discourse on resilience including consideration of the interactions of humans and ecosystems via socio-ecological systems, and the need for shift from the maximum sustainable return paradigm to environmental resource management which aims to build ecological resilience through "resilience analysis, adaptive resource management, and adaptive governance. The project consists with seven work packages and will extend for three years.