Research Update: Localising Emergency Management in Nigeria

By Rebekah Yore, on 7 November 2017

Article by Emmanuel Agbo

The recent devastating effects of natural hazards globally, such as hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, erosion, tsunamis, and landslides, in spite of the many predictive, defensive and reduction measures, call for great concern. Though this situation is often largely attributable to climate change, population growth and urbanisation, its catastrophic effect to humans and the environment, shows to a greater extend the limitations of science and technology and the many disasters risk reduction measures in disaster management. It also highlights a potential need for more proactive measures towards disaster risk reduction.

6d28a69f5c648644e434b02cf9824450Nonetheless, government commitment and willingness to undertake disaster risk reduction measures proves to be a veritable tool for effectiveness in disaster management. While the viability of this tool is undoubtably clear, its implementation often becomes distorted in most developing nations. This is so, as the shared responsibility between the state, the federal and the local government, in a top-down disaster operational approach as practice by most developed economies and adopted by many developing nations, suffers lots of implementation flaws. This occurs frequently within federated nations, where each government level is viewed as a sovereign state. This approach of emergency management places the civil protection measures at the mercy of politicians, who often prefer the provision of relief material to disaster victims in a bid to secure cheap political points rather than engaging in activities that will better prepare the vulnerable towards disaster incidents.

Nigeria-1

In recognition of these challenges, and in the quest to better prepare for disasters, my research supposes that locally institutionalising an emergency management culture within developing nations, serves to quell inconsistencies in its emergency operational framework. As all disasters, regardless of scale, happen first in communities, the local people are always the first to address its occurrences. To achieve greater preparedness, the level of information and awareness of hazards, as well as the potential mitigation strategies at the local level, needs be enhanced. To this end my research, through the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction research fund assistance, recently involved undertaking a field assessment of community perceptions of flood hazards, preparedness, and response within a number of flood vulnerable communities in Nigeria. Its preliminary findings point to poor preparedness and weak knowledge of flood emergency response, weak mitigation measures and poor defense mechanism. Also of notable finding is the gap in communication between the civil protection agencies and the rural vulnerable communities during and after disaster incidents. While most of these factors exist, and continually require review in most developing nations, there is a need for demonstrating complete structures to improve on these challenges. This is the focus of my research. 

David Alexander gives keynote talk in Canada

By David E Alexander, on 1 November 2017

Halifax 1917 and 2017
Halifax Sound, 1917 and 2017

On 26th November 2017 David Alexander gave the keynote speech at the Canadian Risks and Hazards Network annual conference. His topic was “One Hundred Years of ‘Disasterology’: Looking Back and Moving Forward”. His presentation can be found on

The conference was held in Halifax, Nova Scotia, which, almost exactly 100 years ago was the site of a massive explosion that killed 2000 inhabitants and injured 9000, as well as devastating the city. Thanks to the work of a studious Anglican priest, the Rev. Dr Samuel Henry Prince, this event marked the start of concerted academic studies of disaster, which therefore celebrate – if that is the right word – a century of unbroken activity. Alexander reports that it was interesting to observe the compare the explosion, a thriving and peaceful modern city, with the devastation that prevailed in 1917.

On the Provost’s visit to Japan

By Peter R Sammonds, on 5 October 2017

I joined the visit to Japan by the UCL Provost, senior UCL academics and staff from the UCL Global Engagement Office, Alumni Relations and the Grand Challenges for a week in September/October 2017. We visited the Fukushima Prefecture (location of the Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011 after the tsunami), Tohoku University, Kyoto University, a major corporation interested in collaborating with UCL and attended a reception at the British Embassy for UCL Alumni. It was something of a whirlwind tour but provided good opportunities to discuss plans for future collaboration with the Fukushima Prefecture, the International Research Institute for Disaster Science (IRIDeS) at Tohoku and the Disaster Prevention Research Institute (DPRI) at Kyoto.

IMG_0945

Fukushima
Since the earthquake and nuclear disaster in March 2011, the IRDR has been involved in on-going research in the region through EEFIT and IRDR missions to Tohoku. I have visited the affected areas, included the stricken Fukushima nuclear reactor, immediately after the disaster and contributed to field reports. Besides research, UCL has hosted annual symposia for 40 school children from the region, co-organised by the IRDR. Uniquely, UCL has a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Fukushima Prefecture signed in 2015 (UCL’s only MoU with a provincial government).

Continuing the relationship, there will be a return visit by UCL students and UCL Academy students in February/March next year. There will be more opportunities for research this coming visit. The advertising and selection process will start soon. Several IRDR PhD and masters students joined the trip in 2015, led by David Alexander and Shin-ichi Ohnuma (UCL Japan Ambassador). There will be an announcement shortly.

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Caption: Press coverage by the Fukushima Minpo newspaper.

Tohoku University
UCL has an institutional MoU with Tohoku, which was signed in 2013. The IRDR is a key component in this relationship alongside our counterpart and friends in IRIDeS of Tohoku University. At the signing of the MoU we held a joint symposium at UCL on Disaster Science. There have since been exchanges of staff and students and joint research projects and publications. The IRDR will be joining the World Bosai Forum in November organised by IRIDeS.

Kyoto University
The IRDR is a member of Global Alliance Disaster Research Institutes (GADRI). Kyoto University’s DPRI runs the secretariat and the IRDR membership certificate was presented to me. Future collaboration between DPRI and IRDR will be built around capacity building in developing countries and exchange of staff and students.

New Research Published: Tourism Industry Financing of Climate Change Adaptation in Small Island Developing States

By Janto S Hess, on 31 July 2017

 

Tourism is the most important economic sector in many small island developing states (SIDS), often driving development. Tourism in these island nations is however, threatened by climate change impacts, such as sea level rises or tropical cyclones. To cope with the damage costs of these impacts, a larger amount of money will be needed. This raises the question of who should pay for climate change adaptations, and whether it is the government and the tourism industry that are ultimately responsible.

Picture1In this study, Ilan Kelman and I explore the perceptions of selected tourism sector stakeholders and investigate the potential of the tourism industry for financing adaptation among SIDS. A range of financial and political mechanisms, such as adaptation taxes and levies, adaptation funds, building regulations, and risk transferral, were examined. The results show that there is great potential for the tourism industry funding its own adaptation, but with significant challenges in realising this potential. Consumer expectations and demands, governmental hesitation in creating perceived investment barriers, and assumptions about cost effectiveness could undermine steps moving forward. Varying incentive structures, the sector’s price sensitivity, and the varying abilities of tourism industry stakeholders to adapt are all factors suggesting that government frameworks are needed to ensure effective and substantive action.

 

Highlights of our article include:

  • Several promising revenue mechanisms in the tourism industry among SIDS exist that can be tapped to fund the industry’s climate change adaptation (CCA).
  • Private adaptation financing initiatives presumed to be cost-effective and feasible for the tourism industry include investing in water efficiency and pooling resources in a targeted fund, which are then allocated by need.
  • The biggest barriers to engaging the tourism industry among SIDS in funding their own CCA, are the government’s assumed economic dependency on tourism, consumer expectations and demands, and assumptions about costs and benefits.
  • Varying incentive structures and price sensitivity suggest that government frameworks are needed to create substantive and effective action.

To read our article in full, click here: https://www.cddjournal.org/article/view/vol02-iss2-4

Understanding the Nigerian Emergency Management System: A Key to Improving Preparedness.

By Justine U Uyimleshi, on 16 June 2017

Nigeria has over the years, been challenged with human induced disasters unlike other parts of the world that have faced the challenge of natural hazards. Reports revealed that between July 2013 and March 2016, Lagos state alone recorded four major cases of building collapses with around 122 dead and several injured. Between September 2013 and March 2014, Nigeria recorded three major stampedes with 96 dead and several injured (Okoli and Nnorom 2014). Moreover, the frequency of power failures in Nigeria has escalated to the level that even the presidential villa has mandated the 24-hour use of generators to provide continued energy in the state house, Aso Villa.

The increasing frequencyJUSTINE_P of human induced disasters in Nigeria is becoming so alarming that urgent need for preparedness to improve response when disaster strikes is required. This requires adequate knowledge about the system to determine its capability and areas that need urgent attention.

In line with the UCL Grand Challenges initiative, I embarked on a research fieldtrip to Nigeria in May 2017 to conduct a survey as a part of my PhD at the IRDR. The aim was to meet and discuss with a number of relevant emergency response organisations, and obtain some crucial information about emergency management activities to develop a framework to improve emergency response in Nigeria.

The survey was conducted at a number of institutions, including the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), the Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) and the national hospital (NH). All of these constitute key emergency response organisations in Nigeria, and the survey gathered valuable information regarding emergency communication, resource availability, staffing and training.

Initial evidencesuggests that inadequate funding, inadequate resources, insufficient training, lack of incentives, poverty, marginalisation and lack of political will are the major factors that affect emergency response activities in Nigeria.

JUSTINE_FRSC

Investigating the Implementation of Disaster Education in Indonesia

By Nurmalahayati Nurdin, on 15 May 2017

Schools can play an important role in reducing the impact of disasters, and students can be very vulnerable to the effects of disasters if they are not prepared with sufficient knowledge. My study therefore focuses on the integration of disaster risk reduction (DRR) concepts into the Secondary High School curriculum in Indonesia. As part of my research, I travelled to Indonesia from March to April this year.

Throughout my work in Indonesia, I was able to meet and interview several DRR education stakeholders, who play an important role in the development of disaster education in the country, including the National Curriculum Centre, the National Disaster Management Agency, the Indonesian Science Institute, and three NGOs: Plan International, Lingkar and Kerlip.

I also had the opportunity to discuss with a number of teachers, the integration of DRR concepts in their curricula at the Secondary High School in Banda Aceh. Many agreed that Indonesia is a highly disaster-prone nation and that students need to be adequately prepared. However, they also pointed out that limited knowledge, a lack of materials and insufficient support all hinder the implementation of these DRR processes in schools. The teachers believed that such problems can be minimised with greater support, especially from local government, and stated that if DRR concepts are fully integrated into school curricula, more children will have a better understanding of DRR and will work towards transforming their societies.

Meeting with Head of National curriculum centre

The study provided critical information and recommendations for governments, both local and central, regarding the importance of disaster education in schools. The insight might help in formulating policies and designing programmes on disaster management. It will benefit education-based stakeholders and strengthen DRR in school curricula through building knowledge of risk, increased skills, and improved awareness. It will also provide solutions from current disaster problems and assist in the prevention of further catastrophes.

During this trip, I presented my work at the 4th TWINSEA International Workshop on ‘Lessons Learnt and Outlook, Enhancing Resilience in Indonesia and South East Asia Cities through Low Regret Adaptation Measures’. As a part of the workshop, I also attended the book launch of Disaster Risk Reduction in Indonesia to which I contributed, adding my experience to the chapter titled ‘Integrating Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation into School Curriculum: From National Policy to Local Implementation’ (http://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-319-54466-3_8).

Book DRR in Indonesia

The workshop attracted 140 attendees, including researchers, academics, practitioners, and government delegates from seven countries around the world, who presented on multi-disciplinary aspects of the development of DRR in Indonesia. It was organised by the Indonesian Institute of Science – International Centre for Interdisciplinary and Advanced Research (LIPI-ICIAR), Universitas Pendidikan National (UNDIKNAS), the Franzius Institute for Hydraulic, Waterways and Coastal Engineering at the University of Hannover, and the United Nations University Institute for Environment and Human Security (UNU-EHS).

For more information on Nurmalahayati’s work, or to contact her at the IRDR: https://www.ucl.ac.uk/rdr/people/nurmalahayati-nurdin

Working in the USA for 6 months as a visiting researcher

By Alexandra Tsioulou, on 24 October 2016

I am a third year PhD student in the IRDR and the Department of Civil, Environmental and Geomatic Engineering at UCL. My research focuses on the use of simulated ground motions in catastrophe risk engineering. Earlier this year, I travelled to the USA to work as a visiting PhD student for 6 months at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. I worked with Prof. Alexandros Taflanidis from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences to develop simulated ground motion models that are compatible with the expected seismic hazard, particularly in the region of the western USA.

Farewell dinner in July with my officemates. I am on the bottom left side.

Dinner with my officemates. I am on the bottom left.

I was part of the High Performance System Analysis and Design lab and was based in a well-equipped office with other PhD students. I had a big desk and two computer screens that was really convenient. The atmosphere in the room was very different to the big open plan office I sit in at UCL, it is very quiet and there is little interaction between the students. However, they take lunch breaks together and I was often invited to join them. On the weekends, we sometimes got together for dinner or drinks and they were very keen to show me what the city has to offer. They were all very friendly and made me part of their group.

The biggest challenge for me was the cold weather and snow; in the winter it can get down to -30° C, although everybody said I was really lucky last year as it only got down to around -10° C! The campus was very beautiful covered in snow but the commute in this cold weather was not very easy.

Grove of trees.

Grove of trees in South Bend.

Another challenge I faced was the poor public transportation system; there were very few buses and they didn’t go everywhere in the city, so I had to rely on a shuttle service to commute in the winter. The commute was short; in London it takes me half hour to get to UCL from home by tube, whereas there it took about 10 minutes by bus. After spring when temperature went up, I could also walk to university through wonderful scenery including a grove of tall trees and a beautiful lake, which took about 40 minutes. I felt very grateful to have those views and connect with nature every day on my way home.

 

St. Mary's Lake.

St. Mary’s Lake

While there, I attended the Probabilistic Mechanics Conference held in Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. It was a three-day conference and there were a lot of interesting sessions. This conference mainly attracts researchers from US universities, but there were a few people from universities outside the US, mainly Europe and Asia. I presented a part of the work I have done at UCL and had the chance to see and catch up with some old friends.

Overall, that was a great experience and I certainly encourage other PhD students to take any opportunities to spend some time abroad as visiting researchers if they have this option. Lastly, I would like to thank IRDR for providing me financial support for this research trip.

Five members of the IRDR visit Amatrice as part of the EEFIT mission

By Zoe Mildon, on 21 October 2016

View along the main street of Amatrice

View along the main street of Amatrice

Six weeks after the earthquake that struck Amatrice, central Italy, EEFIT (Earthquake Engineering Field Investigation Team) deployed a team to the region to investigate the damages. The team involved five members of the IRDR; Prof. David Alexander, Dr Joanna Faure Walker, Dr Carmine Galasso and PhD students Zoe Mildon and Serena Tagliacozzo.

Zoe taking measurements along the surface rupture, Mt Vettore

Zoe measuring the surface rupture

Joanna and Zoe’s main aim of the trip was to map the surface ruptures from the earthquake. Slip at depth along the fault plane that generated the earthquake came to the surface, and could be seen as offset soils and open cracks along the slope of Mt Vettore. By measuring the orientation and offset of the rupture, they hope to gain a better understanding of the earthquake process. In addition, they worked together with Domenico Lombardi (Uni. Manchester) to look at the environmental effects of the earthquake, such as landslides, rock falls and ground cracks. They were using the Environmental Seismic Intensity Scale (ESI 2007) which aims to provide a measure of the intensity of shaking during an earthquake, similar to the Modified Mercalli Scale, but from only considering effects to the environment.

Carmine’s primary interest was to investigate strong ground motion signals recorded at various seismic stations around the epicentral area. Areas of particular interest included the three stations closest to the earthquake that recorded the highest PGA (Peak Ground Acceleration). One of these was close to the Umbrian town of Norcia that recorded among the highest ground motion measurement, yet the town was relatively undamaged. Three stations ~50km north-west of the epicentre also recorded unusually strong ground motions and these were visited as well to determine if there were any site specific effects that may explain these high measurements. He also worked with other members of the EEFIT team to do rapid surveys of building damage.

Interview for Italian news, Carmine is front left.

Interview for Italian news, Carmine is on the left of the reporter, Serena is to the right

David and Serena were interested in investigating the social effects of the disaster and how local communities were responding to it. They started by interviewing relief workers from various agencies, including the Civil Protection and Red Cross (Croce Rossa). They also visited L’Aquila, 40km to the south-east of the Amatrice epicentral area, as the city experienced a similar magnitude earthquake in 2009 and they were interested in the progress of reconstruction and the availability of the services to displaced communities.

All members also visited the town of Amatrice and surrounding villages to observe the damage. We would like to thank the Civil Protection Authorities and Vigil del Fuoco for their help and assistance during this trip.

Further detail about other members of the EEFIT trip and activities can be found at the mission blog. An EEFIT report will be released in the near future and there will be a presentation organised for late November to present the initial findings.

Italian Earthquakes, Large and Small

By Serena Tagliacozzo, on 6 September 2016

O 1693 c’ha succirutu!

E si n’ha ghiutu lu Vallu ri NuotuUntitled

S’u u pi sorti an-Catania iti

Ciù ri milli voti lacrimati!

Catania ca era ciù perfunna

Ricca ri –ngegnu e ri storia ornata

Spincitivi l’ate a truviriti

L’afflitta virgine a batiuoti.*

(Burderi 2014)

Traditional poem on the M 7.4 earthquake that struck Sicily in 1693, killing about 60,000 people and totally destroying towns such as Noto and Grammichele

 

In Italy damaging earthquakes occur on average once every 19 months, and seismic disasters happen about once every four years

The M6.2 earthquake of 24th August 2016 in central Italy occurred at 03:36 hrs local time and had a hypocentral depth of about 4 km. At least 281 people were killed, with the highest total at Amatrice (pop. 2,646) in the Province of Rieti (Region of Lazio). This event occurred in a predominantly rural area of the Apennines, and the population of the area of major damage was a mere 4,500 people. As a whole, the event recalls the M5.2 seismic disaster of May 1984 in the Abruzzi National Park (140 km south of Amatrice), in which three people died and 11,000 were left homeless (Alexander 1986). In terms of damage to schools, it recalls the M6.0 earthquake of October 2002 at San Giuliano di Puglia, 182 km from Amatrice, in which 27 children and three teachers were crushed to death when a school collapsed (Langenbach and Dusi 2004). In Amatrice the collapse of a school prompted the same questions about the seismic resistance of educational facilities, and the quality of seismic upgrading as had been raised at San Giuliano (Grant et al. 2007). There are possible indications of corruption and that, according to correlation studies, is the principal cause of seismic disasters, world-wide (Escaleras et al. 2007, Ambraseys and Bilham 2011).

In Italy, the immediate political response to the 2016 Amatrice disaster involved a great many fine words and pious hopes about prevention, reconstruction and the preservation of culture. With respect to previous earthquakes, there were some improvements in the organisation and planning of post-event recovery, notably in cultural heritage protection. However, the sums of money offered to the affected area were by no means large enough to accomplish what the politicians said should happen. Italy is the largest beneficiary of the European Union solidarity fund, and in times of seismic disaster it has also drawn heavily on regional support grants. This has not always meant that the use of the funds has met with EU approval—see the conclusions of the European Court of Auditors’ report on the 2009 L’Aquila earthquake (ECA 2012).

Typically in Italy, events such as the 2016 Amatrice earthquake do not lead to a sustained government response, for there are too many other demands upon the public purse. Commonly, the public part of reconstruction funding is largely gleaned from European funds or else is tacked onto parliamentary bills designed to fund other things, in what Americans call ‘pork-barrel legislation’. At best, a government may wait until the financial climate is more favourable before it allocates significant funding to recovery. Thus it was three years before the first stirring of reconstruction occurred in L’Aquila after the M6.3 earthquake of 2009. Public debt incurred in reconstruction after the 1968 Belice Valley, western Sicily, earthquakes, will not be paid off until 2038, 70 years after the disaster. Belice, moreover, had to wait 15 years before reconstruction even started (Parrinello 2013).

These are the minor events. People suffer no less in them than they do in the major ones, but the overall picture is quite different.

Alexander, D.E. 1986. Disaster Preparedness and the 1984 Earthquakes in Central Italy. Natural Hazards Working Paper no. 57, NHRAIC, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado, 90 pp.

Ambraseys, N. and R. Bilham 2011. Corruption kills. Nature 469: 153-155.

Burderi, M. 2014. Il terremoto del 1693 nella pietà popolare. Archivio degli Iblei, July 2014: 1-13. (archiviodegliiblei.it

ECA 2012. The European Union Solidarity Fund’s Response to the 2009 Abruzzi Earthquake: the Relevance and Cost of Operations. Special Report no. 24, Publication Office, European Court of Auditors, Luxembourg 52 pp.

Escaleras, M., N. Anbarci and C.A. Register 2007. Public sector corruption and major earthquakes: a potentially deadly interaction. Public Choice 132: 209-230.

Grant, D.N., J.J. Bommer, R. Pinho, G.M. Calvi, A. Goretti and F. Meroni 2007. A prioritization scheme for seismic intervention in school buildings in Italy. Earthquake Spectra 23(2): 291-314.

Langenbach, R. and A. Dusi 2004. On the cross of Sant’Andrea: the response to the tragedy of San Giuliano di Puglia following the 2002 Molise, Italy, earthquake. Earthquake Spectra 20(S1): S341-S358.

Parrinello, G 2013. The city-territory: large-scale planning and development policies in the aftermath of the Belice valley earthquake (Sicily, 1968). Planning Perspectives 28(4): 571-593.

Interview with Rebekah Yore, PhD Candidate at IRDR and Research Associate at Rescue Global

By Serena Tagliacozzo, on 23 August 2016

Rebekah Yore is a second year PhD Candidate in the Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction. She is carrying out a PhD co-sponsored by Rescue Global, an international organisation specialised in disaster risk reduction and response. In her PhD, she explores how local and international intervention following the initiar-yorel aftermath and transitional period of disasters affects the continuing vulnerability of individuals, households and communities. 

We interviewed her to know more about the upcoming projects and fieldworks in Afghanistan and Tajikistan which she will be visiting in September along with the Rescue Global team.

-Rebekah, what does your job at Rescue Global involve?

As Rescue Global’s first co-sponsored PhD student, my broader academic work aims to contribute theoretical and practical knowledge to practitioner policy at operational, tactical and strategic levels. My focus is on the transitional phase to disaster recovery, and as Rescue Global work around the entire disaster cycle, I hope to be able to directly inform their evolving practice. On a day-to-day level, I have the chance to write online copy, critically appraise theory and practice in Disaster Risk Reduction and Response (DRR&R) trends, deliver analyses of academic and industry reports, and attend and present at national and international conferences.

  -You are going to Afghanistan and Tajikistan in September. How long will you stay there for? Which areas will you be visiting?

Yes. Rescue Global has partnered with the EU Border Management Northern Afghanistan Project (EU-BOMNAF), an EU-funded project administered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), to deliver Disaster Risk Management (DRM) training to border communities and border security forces along the northern border of Afghanistan. The project, known as “Operation Resilient Borders” at Rescue Global, will last for two weeks and is one of a series of missions. There is a gender diversity emphasis this time, and Tajik and Afghan women will also be involved from the areas of Khumrogi, Eshkashem and Ishkashim. For more details of the project so far, see: http://bit.ly/2awcgDM.

-What are the objectives that this field operation seeks to achieve?

11705260_10155821821120015_4791213970532712511_nThe border area between Tajikistan and Afghanistan is very vulnerable to both natural and manmade hazards. Weather conditions, the mountainous landscape and the proximity to a seismic fault all expose the area to regular geophysical and hydro-meteorological disasters. This mission seeks to support the continued development and delivery of the DRM training curriculum, this time including groups of local women as vital caregivers, first responders and conduits of life-saving knowledge.

– How DRR awareness is going to be developed and nurtured at long term?

The training sessions are delivered through both classroom instruction and interactive working groups so that the students then lead practical application exercises to reinforce their learning. Sessions are held in both Tajikistan and Afghanistan, and follow an ‘exchange’ method where border forces are trained together, and in their opposite colleagues’ location. By training all forces as colleagues through several sessions over a longer period of time, and by including local community leaders in the training events, reinforced DRM awareness is spread among men and women along the entire border community.