Having flown half way around the world to share my research on how transformative learning impacts on adaptation and resilience towards disaster risk and make links with Indonesian researchers, I find myself staring at a clock. But the hands on the clock don’t move. Because they can’t. Ever. The clock I am looking at is a permanent record of a pyroclastic surge that enveloped the small settlement I am now standing in, following the eruption of Merapi volcano in 2010. The collection of everyday objects, known locally as Museum Sisa Hartaku (which translates as: ‘My remaining Treasure Museum’) were melted and twisted out of shape when burning hot clouds of ash and particulates as hot as 300 degrees Celsius surged into local homes. Thankfully, the residents had evacuated. However, their pets and animals were not so lucky. Continue reading
In an increasingly urbanizing world cities and their inhabitants are facing the highest losses from disasters. Leaders of the Urban Africa Risk Knowledge (Urban ARK) programme have thus emphasised the urgent need for more detailed and nuanced understandings of urban risk in Africa and how the nature and scale of these risks are shifting in the context of persistent poverty, urban growth and climate change (dx.doi.org/10.3828/idpr.2015.4). These were some of the major issues discussed at the Urban ARK Inception Meeting in Cape Town (19-23 April 2015) and subsequent discussions during the programme’s Inception Period.
Over the last week Professor Mark Pelling has been at the Sendai World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction as part of the UN Science and Technology major group delegation. The Conference has now passed the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030. In addition to Mark, Geography at King’s was represented by PhD student Erin Roberts in her role as a climate change loss and damages expert. Most impressive perhaps was the presence of eight alumni from the MA Disasters Adaptation & Development (DAD) programme with leading roles in the NGO and government processes including Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ), Stockholm Environment Institute (SEI), Overseas Development Institute (ODI), Tearfund, Red Cross, Global Network for Disaster Reduction (GNDR), YCARE and Health England. A wonderful recognition of the contribution of the DAD programme to international policy development on disaster risk reduction – its core mission.
The Urban Africa Risk Knowledge (Urban ARK) programme seeks to open up an applied research and policy agenda for risk management in Urban Africa. With £3.3m in support from DFID-ESRC this three year programme of work highlights urbanization processes that generate human vulnerability and exposure to hazard, as well as examples of capacity building and learning. Field work will be undertaken in sub-Sarahan Africa including Niamey (Niger), Dakar (Senagal), Nairobi and Mombasa (Kenya), Karonga (Malawi) and Ibadan (Nigeria). We focus on those at risk, especially in low-income and often informal or illegal settlements, but also on large scale planed urbanization projects and how these reshape the social and environmental geographies of cities and consequent risk profiles. Disaster risk is our primary focus but we understand that from the perspective of those at risk avoiding – or suffering from – harm risks are multiple and we will contextualise our work on natural hazards alongside work on social and political violence and public health concerns. Research is a collaboration between city level researchers, international teams and practitioners.