UCL Institute for Risk & Disaster Reduction


IRDR Newsletter: October 2013 

12 November 2013


The latest cyclone in India is an great story of the advances made in disaster risk reduction in just a decade. 

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The cyclone that hit Odisha 14 years ago caused the death of ten thousand people and brought misery to hundred of thousands. The cyclone of October 2013 has been devastating but has caused the deaths of maybe a dozen (although this reported figure will probably rise). A low tide helped, but this is a story of effective disaster preparedness by the population at large, government planning, forewarning through technology and modelling and much improved communication. But disasters also have another side - and that is recovery. Even in industrialised countries with almost limitless resources at their disposal, we have seen a patchy recovery in Italy after the L’Aquila earthquake in 2009 and in Japan after the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in 2011. Several IRDR colleagues have been involved investigating the recovery in both regions, linked particularly to the UK Earthquake Field Investigation Team (EEFIT) who have now prepared reports on the course of the recovery in these regions.

There is clearly much work still to be done. With the start of the new year we warmly welcome two new academic appointments, Dr Ilan Kelman, as a Reader, appointed jointly with the UCL Institute of Global Health, and Dr Gordon Ross, as a lecturer, appointed jointly with the Department of Statistical Science. These joint appointments, across departments and across faculties, are exciting new developments for us, as understanding risk and reducing the impact of disasters are complex challenges, that require cross-disciplinary responses. We look forward to a strengthening and deepening of our collaboration with Statistics and Global Health. We also welcome the appointment of a new IRDR Administrator, Christine Bowles. And finally a welcome to our new students: our PhD student population will grow to 17 by the end of 2013, we are in the second year of the MRes, and our first cohort on the new MSc Risk, Disaster and Resilience have arrived.

The up-and-coming events for this term include, the launch of the 2013-14 IRDR Seminar Serieswith a seminar by Aleksey Marchenko from Svalbard on Arctic risks this Thursday 17th October, the first IRDR Building Resilience Forum, with Civil Engineering and the Bartlett School, on 5th November and the IRDR-organised UK-Japan Workshop on Disaster Resilience at UCL (21st -23rd November). I will give a public lecture on “After Fukushima: risk and resilience to disasters in Japan” as part of the UCL lunch hour lecture series on 19th November.

Peter Sammonds Director,

UCL Institute for Risk and Disaster Reduction