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Durham University

Research & business

Tackling global natural disasters

(22 January 2019)

The city of Puebla, in Mexico.

The threat from natural disasters is growing due to climate change, increased population and overuse of resources.

Now £2.6m is being invested in hazard and risk research involving Durham University to help tackle the challenges posed by these threats to communities in Asia and Mexico.

Projects will look at safeguarding people against natural disasters and securing sustainable futures for communities.

£1.8m of this income will fund research in villages, towns and cities that have grown around the Mekong, Red River and Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna river deltas, looking at countries including Bangladesh, Cambodia, India, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

Sustainable development

Our researchers will work with local people, charities, governments and businesses in those regions to monitor the effects of changes in river delta communities caused by human exploitation, environmental damage and climate change.

The project aims to learn what works best to develop solutions for sustainable development.

River deltas make up just one per cent of global landscapes, but support more than half-a-billion people.

This funding is part of a wider scheme bringing together researchers from different subjects to address the challenges faced by people in countries who rely upon river deltas for their futures.

Urban resilience

Separately, approximately £450,000 will fund research to mitigate the effects of earthquakes, hurricanes and floods in Mexican cities.

Between 2000 and 2010 natural hazards caused 2,367 deaths and affected more than 15 million people in Mexico.

Our ‘Smart Urban Resilience’ project examines the use of digital technologies in disaster risk reduction, supporting resilience in the cities of Puebla, Acapulco and Queretaro by fostering smart city technologies that change how people prepare for and respond to natural disasters.

Flood warning

Almost £400,000 will also fund research to build resilience against flooding in Java, Indonesia, through flood management information systems and increased public awareness.

Flooding accounts for 31 per cent of all disasters in the urban centre of Jakarta alone, so our researchers hope to develop a set of internet/social media flood warning tools to tell locals about potential hazards.

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