In contrast, people in poor and emerging economies are far more vulnerable to natural disasters. Over 90% of disaster fatalities occur in these countries. Urban populations are rapidly growing and communities lack safety expertise to assess risks and to reduce vulnerabilities. Further, basic needs often take priority over planning.
During his PhD research, Tucker traveled extensively in Tajikistan and Central Asia and was surprised and concerned by the seismic vulnerability of the buildings he found there. After his return to California, he began to consider how advanced mitigation strategies could be thoughtfully translated and put to use in the most vulnerable parts of the world.
GeoHazards International now champions a safer future for all, in which people are better protected and prepared. It equips people across the spectrum to sustain and scale safer practices. Its expert team advises decision makers so they can anticipate and tackle disaster threats. Its programs share information that is clear, relevant to daily life, and actionable. Local team members invest in community relationships, which enable steady progress.
Engagement happens at all angles. One focus is resilience of schools and hospitals, ensuring that key facilities will withstand disaster events. Some programs have trained engineers, masons and other professionals to create a safer built environment. Village-level interventions have included retrofitting vulnerable schools and conducting community outreach programs. Top-down solutions have included creating risk-informed action plans, creating structural engineering programs with universities, and helping to draft national policy and regulations that consider natural hazards risk.
Using evidence-based scenarios, GHI has mapped potential earthquake disasters to stimulate action to prepare. They calculate the percentage of damage in regions of a city based on likely shaking and local building types. They describe what life would be like in the city immediately after a disaster as well as one week, one month, and one year later. The hope is that by galvanizing public attention, leaders and individuals will be incentivized to act in advance of a disaster.
GHI has been an innovator in the field of disaster resilience for decades, chiefly because they approach it holistically: past, present and future.
We were fortunate enough to speak with Brian Tucker and Kenneth Kornberg of GHI on Social Design Insights. Listen to the episode below.