Helping others to help themselves: Munich Re is extending to 2017 its financial commitment in the international earthquake and landslide risk reduction project in India

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Corporate Responsibility News

19 May 2015

Helping others to help themselves: Munich Re is extending to 2017 its financial commitment in the international earthquake and landslide risk reduction project in India

Munich Re is extending its cooperation with GeoHazards International (GHI) on earthquake and landslide risk reduction in Aizawl, India, by two years. The project, initiated in 2012 and financed by Munich Re, builds up resilience locally through training, institutional changes and implementation of mitigation measures.

The earthquake on April 25 in Nepal and its devastating effects have led to a major disaster. This should remind us again about the importance of developing resilience by encouraging risk reduction measures in communities living in vulnerable regions. Munich Re supports GHI’s project in Aizawl with the goal of reducing extreme earthquake and landslide risks in the city, and to raise awareness of the risks amongst decision-makers and the community. Capacities are being developed at the National and local levels to be able to understand and identify risks and to develop and implement risk-reduction measures.

For the first time, the Aizawl Municipal Council will directly employ a geologist who will receive training in site investigation and engineering geology as part of the project. These newly acquired skills can help the geologist to better identify landslide hazards and promote safer development. The geologist will also be able to access professional landslide hazard maps created during the term of the project for the whole city. Geologists in other departments are also undergoing training as part of the project and they will benefit from the knowledge of national and international experts who support the project in Aizawl and guide the local geologists. In a practically oriented field school, they will learn how to identify incipient landslides, to examine building plots for natural hazards, and to determine and map safe areas.

Successes since the project began in 2012

GeoHazards International has been advising the local government in Aizawl since the project commenced in 2012 – to bring government members on board in terms of appropriate preventative measures and to aid them in implementing the measures. A technical committee was formed – made up of local professionals and renowned technical and policy experts from the US and India. Experts have examined the susceptibility to damage of buildings and the infrastructure, and developed a scenario and recommended mitigation measures for the city. In addition, GHI helped the Aizawl Municipal Council to form the "Landslide Policy Committee for Aizawl City", which brings together different government agencies. The "Roadmap to Stability" was developed jointly – an action plan for a preventive approach to landslides. The actions planned in the Roadmap are now being implemented, with GHI providing assistance to the authorities. To also spread knowledge gained to the population, GeoHazards International has trained over 7,000 schoolchildren and 500 teachers in what actions to take before, during and after any disastrous event.

About Aizawl

Aizawl, the ridge-top capital of northeast India’s Mizoram state, has a high earthquake risk exposure. Landslides also occur frequently in this constantly growing city, often with fatal consequences for the inhabitants – the last time was in May 2013. Poor land use practices and rampant development are further destabilising the slopes. Prior to the project, Aizawl lacked the technical resources and expertise to specify and implement effective measures for improving earthquake safety.

Dr. Janise Rodgers, GeoHazards International

Project geologists of Mizoram University, Columbia University, and project geophysicist of National Geophysical Research Institute, Hyderabad examine a rock outcrop south of Aizawl.

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