Research Group Disaster and Development
Building ASEAN capacity
Disaster Resilience Education Capacity Building in South-East Asia
Commencing in March 2016, the ‘Disaster Resilience Education Capacity Building in South-East Asia’ project drew upon the University of Newcastle’s particular position as a centre for resilience education excellence in order to build capacity in the ASEAN region, leveraging the recent partnership with the United Nations that established a Centre for Disaster Risk Reduction and made Newcastle a UN City. The project furthered our understanding of regional challenges that result from complex problems generated by natural hazards and human induced threats. The overarching aim of the project was to create regional synergies between leading higher education institutions while building capacity in ASEAN countries to proactively address disaster risk and build resilience through education.
Building codes for disaster resilience
Exploring opportunities and challenges in Bangladesh and Nepal
Collaboration with two universities in these countries with experience in this field will address: sharing the understanding that evidence-based knowledge is a critical component in the commitment to local action; institutional and community awareness of the importance of compliance with/barriers to enforcement of codes; fostering communities of collaborative practice; subsequent development of local and international dissemination networks.
To bridge the affordability gap a Grey Building Handbook with translated versions was produced for low-income communities with a focus on disaster resilience.
Schools safe from disasters
Investigating education continuity in urban floods
This research analyses education continuity after urban flooding events in South and Southeast Asia by focusing on primary, middle and high school educational institutions. Partnering with the National University of Civil Engineering (Vietnam), the Asian Institute of Technology (Thailand), and the University of Dhaka (Bangladesh), the University of Newcastle has led this cross-disciplinary investigation spanning 9 schools, 100+ interviews and 30+ focus groups.
Discourse on recent disasters in Sri Lanka
Strengthening the research base in South Asia
This project explores disaster management policy with regard to recent disasters in Sri Lanka, such as the May 2017 floods and landslides based on a review of media reports and interviews of local experts. Questions such as below are explored:
- Whether and how disaster management policies are reviewed in the light of recent disasters?
- What are the enablers and barriers to building resilience?
The project allows gaining a comparative understanding across several small South Asian countries.
Building women's disaster resilience in Fiji
Capacity building through Training-of-Trainers
Women are usually embedded in their communities and have strong potential as community leaders to contribute to resilience. It is therefore relevant to build capacity of women there in disaster risk assessment, preparedness, response and recovery. In this project, working with local stakeholders in Fiji, trainers were trained from different agencies, followed by village level training of at-risk communities.
Strengthening capacity in Vanuatu for managing disaster wastes
Through development of action plans and training of potential trainers on appropriate responses and measures
During and immediately after disasters, the ToT will allow proper management of disaster wastes and prevent building up of hazardous piles in the affected areas. Removal of hazardous wastes and large bulky wastes will prevent further harm to people and the environment. This will also allow faster response when dealing with humanitarian activities in emergency situations.
Prospects and constraints of post-cyclone housing reconstruction in Vanuatu
Drawing from the experience of Tropical Cyclone Harold
The research was conducted with partners in Vanuatu through the Academic-Practitioner Collaboration for Urban Shelter – South Pacific (APCUS) network following Cyclone Harold in April 2020. Firstly, by assessing the impact of cyclones on housing, key challenges for post-cyclone housing reconstruction in Vanuatu were identified. A review of cyclone-resistant construction approaches and post-Harold housing reconstruction initiatives allowed identifying key opportunities for the sector.
Building disaster resilience capacity in Latin America
The project draws upon this UON’s expertise in disaster resilience research to build capacity in the Latin American region. It is intended to develop a mutual understanding of regional challenges that result from complex problems generated by natural hazards and human induced threats and how these aspects are interacting with and being included in higher education curriculum.
The project partners formed a robust regional network with the collective capacity to lead initiatives that protect society from shocks to physical, socio-cultural, politico-economic and natural systems. Each institution brings strong disciplinary expertise in Architecture and Construction Management (UON), Civil/Environmental Engineering and Water Resources Engineering (UDP), Construction Technology and Management (PUJ) and Sustainable and Environmental Law and Policy (UFSC).
Working with Hunter communities
The Research Group engage with Hunter Communities through projects such as:
- Stronger for the Storm (funded by NSW SES), which looked at community resilience in relation to the April 2015 storm and flooding event
- Community Severe Weather Response Plans (funded by Community Resilience Innovation Program) –partnering with NSW SES, developing community-led response plans in 5 NSW towns
- Dungog Community Disaster Preparedness and Resilience Strategy (funded by Community Resilience Innovation Program) –partnering with Dungog Information & Neighbourhood Service Inc. to create and implement a disaster preparedness and resilience strategy for Dungog.
Housing and floods in Honiara, Solomon Islands
In the Solomon Islands floods is a pressing hazard and has severe impacts on housing, particularly in informal settlements. In partnership with Tonkin + Taylor, New Zealand, the research explored the flood risk context of greater Honiara, and the impacts of floods on housing, thereby conducting a gap analysis, particularly of the policy framework regarding land-use planning and building codes, allowing the identification of potential opportunities for supporting flood resilience. A framework for housing improvement in informal settlements of with relevance for the wider Pacific region was formulated.