Ulla Potuvil, village under construction

Inter-disciplinary research in global disaster resilience

Part of the School of Art, Design and Architecture, the Global Disaster Resilience Centre (GDRC) carries out research, education and advocacy activities to help improve the resilience of nations and communities to disasters. GDRC’s work focuses on the role of the built environment: how the design, development and management of buildings, spaces and places can be used to increase resilience.

Much of the Centre’s work is multi or interdisciplinary, and the team work closely with UK and international academic partners from across the social and physical sciences, as well as key stakeholders from policy, government and industry. They provide strategic advice and practical guidance based on rigorous research that is informed by industry and community members.

Protecting and rebuilding communities

With populations and infrastructures increasing the world over, our exposure to hazards is increasing. It is vital that we consider how to protect people and their environment, and reduce a community’s vulnerability.

GDRC’s work recognises that development of the built – or physical – environment must not be carried out in a vacuum. Instead, much of the GDRC’s work highlights the importance of developing resilience through linking the community’s built environment to its broader social, natural, institutional and economic needs.

When a disaster does strike, the built environment also plays a vital role in the recovery process as communities need to be rebuilt physically, economically and socially.

Ten years on from the Sri Lanka Tsunami

On the 26th of December 2004 a tsunami wave, triggered by an earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, hit Northern, Eastern and Southern coastal regions of Sri Lanka, causing 40,000 deaths, 500,000 internally displaced people and 900 million US dollars-worth of infrastructure and environmental damage. Assistance rushed in from local, national and international communities, government, private sector, and non-governmental organizations. A Centre for National Operations was formed to help coordinate relief efforts and, by November 2005, all government agency efforts had consolidated into the Reconstruction and Development Agency (RADA). This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Indian Ocean Tsunami.

A key research initiative has recently been launched between GDRC, the Social Policy Analysis Research Centre at the University of Colombo and the Department of Civil Engineering at the University of Moratuwa in Sri Lanka to look at the Tsunami recovery process in Sri Lanka. The main question that we pose is: where do the victims of the Tsunami stand today after ten years following the event? By considering areas such as infrastructure reconstruction community formation, social cohesion and the impact on young and elderly people, we are improving the understanding of how disasters affect communities in the long term.

For further information, get in touch with the Global Disaster Resilience Centre

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