Image by Water Alternatives via Flickr under a CC BY-NO 2.0 license.
Geography and geographers play an integral role in ensuring that communities reduce the risk of their exposure to natural disasters, from earthquakes and volcanic eruptions to flooding and drought. So to mark the UN’s International day for disaster reduction, here’s a selection of examples that highlight the impact and relevance of geography to reducing the number of people affected by natural disasters.
Geographical research published in the Society’s journals this year has looked at how drought response in South Africa can be informed by the country’s recent summer droughts, some of the most severe on record since the 1980s; how sketch mapping and hot spot analysis can be linked with local community knowledge to understand perceptions of, and response to, flood risk in Belize; and addressing conflicting views on wildfire management.
Geographic information can also help humanitarian and government organisations visualise data about disasters in order to predict, prepare and respond to emergencies. One of our online case studies illustrates how this is being put into practice in Cambodia, the ninth most natural disaster prone country in the world.
thinkWhere, a provider of cloud-based GIS platforms and services, has created a Disaster Management Information System for the Royal Government of Cambodia. This allows trained staff to centralise, visualise and interpret a wide range of data so that appropriate responses can be recommended. By using a single system and displaying it on a map, organisations can easily see where people are at risk from disasters such as floods, droughts and tropical storms.
Our upcoming Monday night lecture Geography in action: the charities using geography to change lives on the ground, will further illustrate the power of geography to save and transform lives, including those affected by natural disasters, through charities including MapAction and Addressing the Unaddressed.
You can also find out more about geography careers in this sector on our website – be sure to check out Natalie Fairchild, an Operations Specialist for Kenyon International Emergency Services, and Matt Foote, a Senior Financial Sector Specialist for Crisis and Disaster Risk Finance at The World Bank, to find out more about geographers working with risk and disaster reduction.