Local solutions to global problems: reducing disaster risk through collaboration and openness

Source(s): Global Earthquake Model Foundation (GEM)
TREQ Team meeting with engineers of the Municipality of Quito, Ecuador.

October 13, 2021. Pavia. The 2021 edition of IDDR Day focuses on ‘International cooperation for developing countries to reduce their disaster risk and disaster losses.’ - the sixth of the Sendai Seven targets.

GEM’s work over the past decade in developing countries has accelerated the assessment of risk and incorporation of risk-based decisions into planning and sustainable development by merging the interests of public and private sectors, and collaborating with local governments.

John Schneider, GEM Secretary General, underscores GEM’s collaborative and inclusive approach by saying that “GEM develops trust with local partners and stakeholders through projects that provide technical support and training on the use and application of GEM models, tools and methodologies. We ensure that local scientists, experts and local decision-makers are involved from the start.”

Most recently, GEM’s Training and Communication for Earthquake Risk Assessment or TREQ Project, funded by USAID, has demonstrated this by GEM working together with local partners in building the capacity for urban earthquake risk assessment in Quito, Ecuador; Cali, Colombia; and Santiago de los Caballeros, Dominican Republic.

Building on the success of GEM’s previous collaborative efforts in the South America Risk Assessment project (SARA 2013-2016) and Central America and the Caribbean Risk Assessment project (CCARA 2017-2018), the TREQ team, in collaboration with local experts, has updated the hazard and risk models of the pilot cities using more detailed hazard and risk information. 

Since 2020, the TREQ team has trained close to 400 individuals from almost 60 countries in using OpenQuake for urban earthquake hazard and risk assessments. The project also produced training and educational materials that are being adapted for university courses through the project’s Training the Trainers component.

The results of the TREQ project will be released openly, and will be of interest to a wide-range of users – from risk analysts, emergency planners and managers to researchers, modelers and the public at large. The analysis methods and collaboration approach set the foundation for enhancing earthquake hazard and risk assessment for other cities and urban areas in Central and South America, and may be extended worldwide to cities at risk and in need of assistance.

“The TREQ project has served as a venue for thorough discussion and developing skills in the hazard and risk assessment fields in the region. Working groups established in the cities have facilitated the sharing of data, knowledge, methodologies and results between the local partners and GEM scientists. Over the past two years, we have mutually learned from our diverse backgrounds and experiences.” Catalina Yepes, GEM Project Manager on the importance of local collaboration in disaster risk reduction.

For other examples of GEM’s collaborative work in disaster risk reduction in developing countries, check the following links below:

More information on UNDRR International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction can be found at https://www.un.org/en/observances/disaster-reduction-day.

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