International initiative of risk reduction in urban areas

International initiative of risk reduction in urban areas

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Rajib Shaw
OYO Corporation, Tokyo, Japan
[email protected]

To realize the concept of the IDNDR and “Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action,” the IDNDR Secretariat, with overall guidance by the IDNDR Scientific and Technical Committee and in consultation with some leading institutions, has launched the RADIUS (Risk Assessment Tools for Diagnosis of Urban Areas against Seismic Disasters) project in 1996 with assistance of the Government of Japan.

The United Nations General Assembly designated the 1990s as the “International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction” to reduce loss of life, property damage and social and economic disruption caused by natural disasters. In 1994, the World Conference on Natural Disaster Reduction was held in Yokohama, Japan, declaring the “Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action for a Safer World”. It stresses particularly the importance of making appropriate technology available to all freely and of the involvement of local governments and communities. It also defines the risk assessment as a required step for the adoption of adequate and successful disaster reduction policies and measures.

To realize the concept of the IDNDR and “Yokohama Strategy and Plan of Action,” the IDNDR Secretariat, with overall guidance by the IDNDR Scientific and Technical Committee and in consultation with some leading institutions, has launched the RADIUS (Risk Assessment Tools for Diagnosis of Urban Areas against Seismic Disasters) project in 1996 with assistance of the Government of Japan. It aims to promote worldwide activities for reduction of seismic disasters in urban areas, particularly in developing countries. The project will develop common methodologies for seismic risk assessment of urban areas in order to raise the awareness of decision-makers, government officials, business leaders, communities and citizens and to provide them with directions for disaster mitigation. Through the project, it is expected that state-of-the-art studies and technologies for seismic disaster mitigation will be incorporated into appropriate tools available to all people in the world.

Direct objectives of the project

  1. To develop seismic damage scenarios and risk management plans for the nine case study cities selected worldwide
    Nine cities selected worldwide in developing countries will conduct a case study with financial and technical assistance from the IDNDR Secretariat. The case studies aim to develop the seismic damage scenario and then propose an action plan for mitigation of earthquake disasters. The case studies are expected to raise the awareness of seismic risks there. Internationally renowned institutes will transfer the advanced technologies for seismic risk mitigation to the case study cities. The experiences and results of the case studies will be a good source of information for other earthquake prone cities.
  2. To development of practical tools for the seismic damage assessment, which could be applied to any earthquake prone city in the world.
    A manual and graphic software will be developed, based on the analysis of the case studies. They can be applied to any earthquake prone cities to prepare earthquake damage scenarios for urban areas. It is expected that these “globally applicable local tools” will be utilized by local users, particularly the local governments, which don’t necessarily have sufficient engineering staff.

    With the manual and/or the graphic application, the local governments can estimate, first, the magnitudes and locations of future probable earthquakes likely to affect a certain city, second, the level of ground motions that these earthquakes would create, and finally the physical damage and human losses in the city. The scenario will show how the damage to buildings and infrastructure and human loss by zone in a city would be changing as time passes after a probable earthquake.

  3. To conduct a comparative study to understand urban seismic risk around the world
    The comparative study on “Understanding Urban Seismic Risk Around the World” aims to better understand various aspects contributing to the seismic risk in different urban areas of the world, and identify solutions and risk management practices that have been successful and can be duplicated. Cities interested join the study as “Member Cities.”

    By participating in the study, first, the participant cities can gain a better understanding of the characteristics of their seismic risk. Second, the study will help cities recognize and prioritize projects for the risk management. Third, it will offer the opportunity for cities to establish partnerships with other cities.

  4. To promote information exchange for the seismic risk mitigation at city level
    Cities which have carried out or are carrying out a seismic risk assessment with independent resources participate in RADIUS as “Associate Cities” for information exchange and international cooperation. The Associate Cities are expected to offer their valuable experiences to other cities mainly through the RADIUS home page while they can obtain useful information from other cities.

The results of the seismic risk assessment by applying the tools are too general, and they must be regarded as the very first step for the seismic risk assessment. It should be noted that the main purpose of the project is to raise the awareness of decision-makers, government officers, communities and private sectors.

Decision makers and government officials
The results will be useful to decision makers and government officials who are responsible for disaster prevention and disaster preparedness;

  1. to decide priorities for urban planning to mitigate seismic disasters
  2. to prepare an improvement plan for the existing urban structures such as reinforcement of vulnerable buildings and infrastructures, securing of open spaces and emergency roads and designation of areas for evacuation
  3. to prepare for emergency activities such as life saving, fire fighting, emergency transportation, and assistance to the suffering people

Communities, NGOs, and citizens
The results will be useful to communities, NGOs, and citizens;

  1. to understand the vulnerability of the area where they live
  2. to understand how to behave in case of an earthquake disaster
  3. to participate in preparing a plan for disaster prevention

Business leaders and related private companies
The results will be useful to business leaders, building owners, developers, real estate agents, and insurance/reinsurance companies. They will be able to understand the seismic risk of the city so that they could minimize the damage on their business.

The following case study cities were selected out of total 58 cities worldwide. There are nine types of case study cities:

Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), Antofagasta (Chile), Bandung (Indonesia), Guayaquil (Ecuador), Izmir (Turkey), Skopje (TFYR Macedonia), Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Tijuana (Mexico), Zigong (China)

Besides, 73 cities are participating in the comparative study, with mutual information exchange program.