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Northumbria University research has identified strategies for risk reduction of infectious diseases that focus on affected communities’ vulnerabilities and capabilities. The research is now integral to the health policies of the United Nations (UN) Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction which has 109 signatory countries and has guided the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Framework for Health Emergency and Disaster Risk Management.



Over the past two decades, decision-making in disaster risk management has evolved from a predominantly centralised, ‘command and control’ style of management to more ‘people-centred’ approaches involving local participation.



Research by the Disaster and Development Network (DDN) at Northumbria University, has worked with communities at risk of disaster across the world to develop new insights into enhancing disaster preparedness. This research has developed, applied, and tested the people-centred disaster risk reduction (DRR) model with project partners in communities across the world in highly vulnerable locations.



This work has embedded health and people-centred resilience into disaster reduction programmes at the UN, including the WHO. This impact is delivered at the international strategic and monitoring levels, but also in terms of implementation planning, including laying the groundwork for generating the needed contextual data in the most at-risk communities.

Impact has also been felt on the ground in Mozambique and Kenya where work with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) and international non-governmental organisation, No Strings International, has seen the people-centred approach to local environment and health resilience implemented in vulnerable communities. This approach built on existing local knowledge and enhanced community responsiveness, including new public health policies, teacher training, and hand-washing facilities in Nairobi schools.


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Institution: Northumbria University 

Researcher: Professor Andrew Collins

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Royal Geographical Society (with IBG) (2023) Empowering local communities to reduce health vulnerabilities after disaster. Available at  Last accessed on: <date>