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Putting Flood Risk on the Map: Fieldwork Reflections from the Philippines

Carigara is a municipality located in the province of Leyte in the Philippines, home to a population of more than 50,000. It is a lively and vibrant town surrounded by green paddy fields and under beautiful mountains. Like many places in the Philippines however, flooding has been a persistent issue, hampering local development efforts. Our thesis research aims to model local flooding in Carigara and propose appropriate mitigation measures. This past June, our team travelled to Carigara for a 3-week fieldwork trip to collect data required for our modelling and analysis. Our time in Carigara started with a warm welcoming

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Opening the Door to Safe and Sustainable Housing Reconstruction

When a disaster occurs, what is the typical response? Sadness, sympathy, compassion? Social media? People tend to use Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook to raise awareness and express concerns in the wake of a disaster. Yet, with today’s ever-revolving news cycle, people often move on to new stories and neglect consideration for long-term disaster recovery and the degree of effort it requires. In humanitarian engineering, immediate attention is placed on providing aid promptly and saving lives. Organisations tend to pour resources into immediate solutions. However, a significant stage of the disaster cycle involves long-term recovery. Recovery is commonly referred to as

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What’s in a Message? Unpacking Post-Disaster Housing Guidance

Rising population and urbanization continue to be two main drivers of disaster risk. In the last five decades the number of disasters has more than quadrupled and this trend is continuing. While mortality rates continue to decline from disasters, the mounting pressure of disasters on global poverty is more urgent than ever. Global losses from disasters have grown from $50 billion per year in the 1980s to more than $330 per annum in 2017. From 2000 to 2010, more than 980,000 people were killed and over 2.2 billion were affected by disasters. The economic and social cost of disasters are

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Reflections as a Summer Research Scholar

My interest in humanitarian engineering, combined with my aspiration to pursue postgraduate research, became my main motivators when first applying for the Summer Research Program. Fortunately, my acceptance into the program paved way to a valuable learning opportunity where I was able to undertake a project that not only provided me with a small insight into the world of research, but also into the developing field of humanitarian engineering. Furthermore, my research project, which will be discussed in detail below, was also a rewarding experience as it allowed me to contribute, even in a small way, to a cause close

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The Landscape of Hazard and Disaster Journals

As many researchers find, navigating the mass of academic journals can be overwhelming. The field of hazard and disaster research is particularly challenging given its inherently inter-disciplinary nature. I set out to compile a list of relevant hazard and disaster journals, as well as metrics that might characterize their relative importance in the field. The results were highly insightful, and something I wish I had access to from the start of my PhD program. I’m sharing here for other postgraduate students and researchers interested in identifying potential publication outlets or seeking the best of hazard and disaster literature. I started

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Can We Draw a Line Between Humanitarian and Development Work?

Humanitarian workers have been busy recently. Conflicts in the Middle East and Eastern Europe continued to drive an unprecedented number of migrants and refugees seeking asylum to Europe. Conflicts in Africa, such as the ongoing civil war in South Sudan,  continue to exacerbate already dire conditions. News headlines of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa have been replaced with the Zika epidemic in the Americas. The recent April earthquake in Ecuador reminded us disaster can strike at any moment, anywhere in the world. Without doubt, the global humanitarian system is being stressed to its limits. In the midst of all these disasters, there is also an unprecedented level

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