In the last week of February, members of the UKCDS Disasters team organised a workshop in Bogotá, Colombia on the topic of good enough, disaster risk assessments.
In the last week of February, members of the UKCDS Disasters team organised a workshop in Bogotá, Colombia on the topic of good enough, disaster risk assessments. The workshop brought together representatives from a range of nations to identify what components make for a scientifically robust risk assessment when short of time or other resources.
One of the opening presentations described step-by-step the recent disaster risk assessment of Bogotá by Dr Omar Cardona of the National University of Colombia. This was partly used as a comparative, as the Colombian Government – supported by funding from sources such as the World Bank – have driven the agenda in developing a comprehensive disaster risk assessment of the capital city. They have been gathering and analysing data for approximately 20 years to feed into the risk assessment and the document is still evolving even now.
Dr Alonso Brenes Torres from FLACSO, also described the work that they had done on the uptake of risk assessments, and their translation from the page into practice.
To address the main subject of the workshop we then heard four case studies of disasters which had featured science in their risk assessments, in situations when time and resources were limited. These included the storm surge following Typhoon Haiyan, volcanic eruptions in Colombia (Nevado del Ruiz) and Ecuador (Tungurahua), Landslides in Gramalote, Colombia and a comparative case study of the 1987 and 2013 storms in the UK.
These case studies were supported by quick-fire rounds to further explore topics, with sessions asking questions like “What is ‘good enough’ for a risk assessment?” and “What shortcuts can be taken whilst still achieving a scientifically informed risk assessment and ensuring appropriate actions are taken?” To build upon the earlier presentation, there was also a session on how to ensure that ‘good enough’ risk assessments are used.
These questions informed and provoked discussion during the breakout sessions where the participants delved into issues such as steps for ensuring community engagement, and how to present science in a way to facilitate the job of decision makers.
Crucial for looking forwards, we concluded the workshop with a discussion to identify the research gaps that remain in this area. The noted challenges will be taken to the next meeting of the Disasters Research Group, whose Secretariat sits in UKCDS.
To top off a successful conference we were also tremendously fortunate to visit the Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology and Climate (IDEAM). They showed us how they monitor hydrometeorological hazards for Colombia and the systems they have in place to raise public awareness.
The SIN Officer at the British Consulate in Texas also wrote about this event in an FCO blog.
Image credit: Adrien Olichon