EPICentre Receives UKRI Funding for International Collaboration to Foster Resilient Recovery

24 November 2020

This project seeks to foster the resilient recovery of marginalised communities of Palu, Indonesia, displaced by the 2018 earthquake and tsunami. EPICentre has teamed up with Tsunami and Disaster Mitigation Research Center and Tadulako University under the UKRI Global Challenges.


An interdisciplinary team of academics and NGOs from the UK (Prof. Helene Joffe (PI), Prof. Tiziana Rossetto (coI), Dr Carmine Galasso (coI) and Dr Priti Parikh (coI)) and Indonesia (Dr Ella Melianda (coI), Dr Sukiman Nurdin (coI), Mrs Rina Suryani Oktari (coI) and Dr Khairul Munadi (coI)) will co-develop an innovative intervention that targets psycho-social disaster support, hygiene and the safety of the physical environment, and which centres on schools as hubs for fostering community empowerment. This multi-pronged intervention will recreate not just the former status quo for these displaced communities but a more resilient future in which their needs and aspirations are put centre stage, and in which their wellbeing is fostered.

The intervention takes place over three sites in the poorest, most devastated parts of Palu, and will address the psycho-social, hygiene-related and infrastructural needs and aspirations of survivors. The interventions will foster recovery, while simultaneously empowering these communities to make decisions around their future disaster resilience. Through this work we aim to establish a sound evidence-base for what works to improve the capacity of disaster-displaced people, and develop tools and education material to foster dialogue concerning disaster resilience and safer schools.


The project builds the research capacity of two Indonesian Universities, and the collected evidence will enable them to further their mission of influencing the Indonesian Ministry of Education to implement an effective disaster recovery and preparedness program in all Indonesian schools. The interdisciplinary evidence base that emerges from the proposed project will ensure that this disaster recovery and preparedness program, and others in different regions of the world that target similar contexts, are based on sound scientific evidence and knowledge of local contexts gleaned from survivors themselves. The research involves close collaboration with the Humanitarian sector, and so the proposed research will not only produce traditional academic output but also practice-based reports and guidelines, which will be developed with the aim of improving the efficiency of future disaster response and resilient recovery programs.

The project is highly relevant to Indonesia (and other ODA countries) in tackling the grand challenges of sustainability and resilience, undertaking adventurous interdisciplinary research and promoting dynamic and informed decision-making processes by the agencies in charge of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and recovery. The ultimate and major stakeholders in the project are the children from marginalised and displaced communities in Palu attending schools, their teachers and their families. By involving multiple stakeholders at international, national and local levels, output from the project will strengthen the adaptive capacity of local institutions, civil protection and communities to identify, assess and respond to present and potential shocks and stresses, with special focus on school facilities.

The project will also provide several Indonesian and UK industries, such as local engineering consultancies and construction companies, with a practice-oriented framework (and related implementation tools) for assessing and increasing multi-hazard resilience of school facilities and for building back better. UCL EPICentre's wide network of industrial collaborators will be used for the promotion of the project outputs to the insurance and re-insurance industry (e.g., Willis Re., Insurance Development Forum), NGOs (e.g., Save the Children, Build Change), and multidisciplinary consultancy firms (e.g., ARUP, Buro Happold). The ultimate goal is to create a vibrant core of activities in which research is driven by genuine user priorities, and industry, in turn, benefits from access to state-of-the-art techniques and innovation assembled by world-leading experts.

The project will address major intellectual challenges by bringing together psychology, environmental and structural engineering. By so doing, and through strong community engagement, the project will advance knowledge on psycho-social and physical recovery, and on multi-hazard risk assessment. This work aims to inform the future design of culturally appropriate, resilience increasing solutions for marginalised disaster-displaced communities, through the strong involvement of NGOs. It aims to promote more interdisciplinary, evidence-based approaches to the delivery of aid and recovery assistance.