Friday, October 12, 2018

International Disaster Risk Reduction Day in Nepal

13 October is designated as International Day for Disaster Reduction to promote a global culture of disaster reduction, including disaster prevention, mitigation and preparedness. Every year the Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Day recognises progress and encourages further efforts to build disaster resilient communities and nations.
The Ministry of Home Affairs Nepal in coordination with Disaster Preparedness Network Nepal (DPNet-Nepal), Association of International NGOs Task Group on Disaster Management (AINTGDM), UN and other humanitarian agencies celebrated International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction (IDDR) with the slogan "Increase Investment in Disaster Reduction, Reduce the Economic Loss”.
In Nepal, the day was celebrated with a week-long programme followed by mass rally and a national symposium on DRR.
Coinciding with the IDDR, Support Activities for Poor Producers of Nepal (SAPPROS), a CBM partner organized a speech competition in Nawalpur Secondary school of Sindhupalchowk district on "A meaningful participation of children with disabilities in disaster management". Altogether, nine students participated in the competition and shared their views on the role and participation of persons with disabilities during emergency and post-disaster situation.
A short orientation program was also organised with teachers and students on DiDRR.
After the interaction meeting, the school has also showed their commitment to embed Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction in the formal school curriculum. Similarly, rally and simulation drills was also organised by INF, CBM partner in Jumla, Tanahu, Lalitpur and Kathmandu districts.

Nepal and Disaster
Nepal is one of the disaster prone country in the world due to topography and climatic conditions. Disaster of various types - earthquake, landslides, floods, fire, thunderbolts are frequent, affecting poor, marginalized groups including persons with disabilities. Persons with disabilities are more likely to be left behind or abandoned during evacuation in disasters due to lack of preparation and planning as well as inaccessible facilities. Their needs are often overlooked in emergency relief operation and they are seldom involved in disaster preparedness, recovery and or rehabilitation.
The earthquakes of 1934, 1980, 1988, 2015 and the floods of 1993, 2008, 1913, 2014 and 2017 are the most devastating disasters that occurred in Nepal which not only caused heavy losses to human lives and physical properties (or economic losses) but also adversely affected poor, marginalized and most-at risk groups including persons with disabilities.
The recent (2017) floods caused of USD 584.7 million losses and USD 705.1 million USD were required to meet the recovery needs.
CBM Nepal’s work in Disaster Risk Reduction
Following the Gorkha Earthquake (2015), CBM developed a Post-emergency Response Implementation Plan (PERIP) to address long-term needs of earthquake-affected communities. The project focuses on five major areas 1) health and rehabilitation 2) livelihood 3) mental health and psycho-social support 4) education and 5) accessibility and inclusion. The interventions are being carried in ten earthquake-affected districts.
One of the main objectives of the PERIP project is to enhance capacity of partner organizations, NGOs and governments on disability inclusive development and disability inclusive disaster risk reduction to increase access of locally available resources.
Working with DPOs and partner organisations, CBM provides training emphasizing on inclusive DRR plans and strategies to identify the barriers and prejudices and work towards reducing existing barriers at all setting, constructing accessible and resilient infrastructure and public spaces, disability-sensitive warning systems and evacuation routes and making information accessible for all. CBM partners are also working with local governments to sensitize them on the Sendai framework of action, and to encourage the participation of persons with disabilities in disaster risk planning in the country.
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FDL Method for 13th October, Which Countries?

Using our new research and published prediction calendars, we see that the following countries, are candidates and maybe vulnerable to receiving earthquakes tomorrow 13th October 2018. The list is not conclusive of course as we sample a few countries.

  • China (peaks on 14th)
  • Chile (peaks on 14th)
  • Fiji (peaks on 14th)
  • Italy
  • Japan  [35N, 140E]
  • Kamchatka  [50N, 155E]
  • Mexico  [32N, 114W]
  • New Zealand  [41S, 42S, 174E]
  • Peru 
  • Philippines  [5N, 125E]
  • Tonga  [24S, 174W]

You can read about our methodology here.

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Landslides triggered by human activity on the rise

More than 50,000 people were killed by landslides around the world between 2004 and 2016, according to a new study by researchers at UK’s Sheffield University. The team, who compiled data on over 4800 fatal landslides during the 13-year period, also revealed for the first time that landslides resulting from human activity have increased over time. The research is published in the European Geosciences Union journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences.
The team found that over 700 fatal landslides that occurred between 2004 and 2016 had a human fingerprint. Construction works, legal and illegal mining, as well as the unregulated cutting of hills (carving out land on a slope) caused most of the human-induced landslides.
“We were aware that humans are placing increasing pressure on their local environment, but it was surprising to find clear trends within the database that fatal landslides triggered by construction, illegal hillcutting and illegal mining were increasing globally during the period of 2004 and 2016,” says Melanie Froude, a postdoctoral researcher at Sheffield’s Department of Geography and lead author of the study.

While the trend is global, Asia is the most affected continent: “All countries in the top 10 for fatal landslide triggered by human activity are located in Asia,” says Froude. The number 1 country is India, which accounts for 20% of these events. It is also the country where human-triggered fatal landslides are increasing at the highest rate, followed by Pakistan, Myanmar and the Philippines.
Dave Petley, a professor and Vice-President for Research and Innovation at the University of Sheffield, started collecting data on fatal landslides after realising that many databases on natural disasters were “significantly underestimating the extent of landslide impact.” While earthquakes and storms are deadlier, landslides do cause a significant number of fatalities.
The researchers identified a total of 4800 fatal landslides, excluding those triggered by earthquakes, that occurred around the world between 2004 and 2016 and caused a total of about 56,000 deaths. The most tragic event identified by the researchers was the Kedarnath landslide in June 2013 in India, which resulted in over 5000 deaths. It was due to extreme weather conditions that caused flash floods and massive mudflows, which affected thousands of religious pilgrims trapped in a mountain area.
Since 2004, Petley has painstakingly collected data on fatal landslides from online English-language media reports. To confirm the news were accurate, Petley – and more recently Froude, who reviewed all landslide accounts – checked each report whenever possible against government and aid agency articles, academic studies or through personal communication. Details about the landslides, such as location, impacts or cause, were added to their Global Fatal Landslide Database.
“Collecting these reports and organising them into a database shows us where landslides are frequently harming people, what causes these landslides and whether there are patterns in fatal landslide occurrence over time. The database provides us with an overview of the impact of landslides on society,” explains Petley.
Aside from Asia, where 75% of landslides in the database occurred, the areas most affected are in Central and South America, the Caribbean islands, and East Africa. In Europe, the Alps are the region with more fatal landslides.
In support of past studies, the researchers also found that 79% of landslides in their database were triggered by rainfall. Most events happen during the northern hemisphere summer, when cyclones, hurricanes and typhoons are more frequent and the monsoon season brings heavy rains to parts of Asia.
The Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences study highlights that fatal landslides are more common in settlements, along roads, and at sites rich in precious resources. They occur more frequently in poor countries and affect poor people disproportionately, the researchers say.
In the Himalayan mountain region, especially in Nepal and India, many of the fatal landslides triggered by construction occurred on road construction sites in rural areas, while in China many happened in urban building sites. “The prevalence of landslides in these settings suggests that regulations to protect workers and the public are insufficient or are not being sufficiently enforced. In the case of roads, maintaining safety during construction is difficult when it is economically unviable to completely shut roads because alternative routes involve substantial 100 mile + detours”, says Froude.
Landslides triggered by hillcutting are mostly a problem in rural areas, where many people illegally collect material from hillslopes to build their houses. “We found several incidences of children being caught-up in slides triggered as they collected coloured clay from hillslopes, for decoration of houses during religious festivals in Nepal. Educating communities who undertake this practise on how to do it safely, will save lives,” Froude says.
“With appropriate regulation to guide engineering design, education and enforcement of regulation by specialist inspectors, landslides triggered by construction, mining and hillcutting are entirely preventable,” Froude emphasises. “The study highlights that we need to refocus our efforts globally on preventable slope accidents,” concludes Petley.
Video summary of the research: Why are human triggered landslides on the rise? (Credit: University of Sheffield)

More information

This research is presented in the paper ‘Global fatal landslide occurrence 2004 to 2016’ published in the EGU open access journal Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences on 23 August 2018.
The data are available to view at ESRI ArcGIS online at
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Earthquake-induced landslides and the ‘strange’ case of the Hokkaido earthquake

The population of many countries in the world is exposed to earthquakes, one of the most destructive natural hazards. Sometimes, consequent triggered  phenomena can be even worse than the earthquake itself. In this context, earthquake-induced landslides often concur in life and economic losses. To better understand these induced phenomena, updated catalogues of their types and location of occurrence are fundamental. In his works, Dr David K. Keefer performed several interesting statistical analysis, which highlighted how the magnitude and the distance from the epicentre play a key role in triggering earthquake-induced landslides (Figs. 1 and 2). In particular, he showed that the number of landslides induced by earthquakes decreases with the increase in distance from the epicentre (Fig.1) and that the number of landslide increases with larger magnitude events (Fig. 2).

What types of landslides can be induced by an earthquake?
Keefer provided great insights about the types of landslides induced by an earthquake, showing that rock falls, rock slides and other types of landslide typically affecting the soil are usually abundant or very abundant in case of seismic events. Here, ‘rock’ signifies firm, intact bedrock while ‘soil’ signifies a loose, unconsolidated, or poorly cemented aggregate of particles. On the other hand, flow-like landslides result moderately common or uncommon (Fig. 3).
Skipping the definition of each above mentioned landslide typology, which can be found in Keefer (1984), it is important to notice that the most common types do not necessarily require an abundant presence of water to be triggered and some of them, such as rock falls, can occur in completely dry conditions. On the opposite, flow-like landslides mobilise material that is often, even though not always, mixed with water. In this context, rapid soil flows are the most hazardous ones since they move as high velocity currents and transport heavy rock boulders and trees up to several kilometres downstream.
Videos of earthquake-induced landslides are available on the web (click on the underlined words to open the video). For example, this is a massive rock fall that occurred as a consequence of a Mw=6.5 earthquake that struck Central Italy on Oct. 31, 2016. These other rock falls, which channelized in steep narrow stream-valleys, occurred in Nepal on May 12, 2015 during a Mw=7.3 earthquake.
The case of Hokkaido
You may have already read that on Sept. 6, 2018 the Hokkaido Japanese island was hit by a Mw=6.6 earthquake. The earthquake generated numerous landslides in the Atsuma area, causing most of the 41 deaths attributed to the earthquake (Figs. 4 to 7, pictures taken from an article of The Guardian).

Fig. 4. The aftermath of a large landslide in Atsuma covering farm fields, from The Guardian. Photo credit: Jiji Press/EPA

Fig. 5. A huge swath of land has slipped near Atsuma town, The Guardian. Photo credit: Kyodo/Reuters

Fig. 6. Other consequences of the induced landslides, from The Guardian. Photo credit: Jiji Press/AFP/Getty Images

Fig. 7. Widespread devastation in the region, from The Guardian. Photo credit: Asahi Shimbun
The landslides induced by the Hokkaido earthquake are quite different from the rock falls that can be observed in the above mentioned videos. By looking at the Atsuma pictures, it is easily recognizable that the mobilised material is mainly soil and it appears semi-fluid. Moreover, some landslides travelled a very long distance in a flow-like mode. These characteristics can make one think that the unstable mass was rich in water when  the collapse occurred.
The soil involved in the landslides, which to me correspond to rapid soil flows and water-rich soil slides, consists largely of layers of low density and high porosity tephra (pumice) ejected by past volcanic explosive eruptions in the region, as Japanese scientists refer to a local newspaper. Tephra layers can be easily mobilised by gravity, just like in this case. According to Yoshihiro Ishizuka, head of the volcanic activity research group at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology of Japan, the pumiceous soil moved alone while the stable bedrock below remained intact and in place.
When I saw the pictures of Atsuma for the first time, I immediately thought that water could have played a major role in this tragedy. But where does this water come from? It is well known that earthquakes often cause soil liquefaction, is this the case?  As a Japanese journal reported, it seems that the long, heavy rains of this summer may have contributed to fill the highly porous volcanic soil with water, facilitating the collapse and the trigger of the landslides when the earthquake hit the area. Nevertheless, others consider rains were too modest to represent an important causative factor.
We will have to wait for further studies to solve the doubt!

Keefer, D. K. (1984). Landslides caused by earthquakes. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 95(4), 406-421.<406:LCBE>2.0.CO;2
Keefer, D. K. (2000). Statistical analysis of an earthquake-induced landslide distribution—the 1989 Loma Prieta, California event. Engineering geology, 58(3-4), 231-249.
Keefer, D. K. (2002). Investigating landslides caused by earthquakes–a historical review. Surveys in geophysics, 23(6), 473-510.

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