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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Civil emergency management planning for natural disasters (earthquakes)

Faye Karababa

Civil emergency management planning for natural disasters (earthquakes)

The increased number of natural disasters in the last decades owing to the increased
vulnerability of human populations appears a major barrier in the considerable efforts
towards sustainable development. Safety has been defined as a key parameter in order
to achieve sustainable cities and thereupon a better quality of life. Yet, strong evidence suggests that where people have consciously acted to prevent the occurrence of these disasters by adopting well-defined preparedness plans and
mitigation measures, they have succeeded in significantly reducing the potential
adverse impacts and have managed to maintain the safety and stability of their habitats.

This thesis aims to offer further support to the aforementioned view by providing
tangible proof where preparedness has resulted in protecting human lives, appreciably
reducing both the direct and indirect losses incurred by earthquake disasters.
Furthermore, it aims to promote the unarguable correlation between preparedness and
development and to show that these processes are so closely linked that one becomes
both the driving force and consequence of the other.

The analysis is performed by adopting the earthquake disaster of June 23rd 2001 in
Atico, Peru. The reasons for choosing this particular event are attributed to the high
seismicity of the region implying a long tradition and local cultural knowledge in the
endeavours to survive such disasters, as well as the highly unstable political,
economical and social conditions that dominate the country rendering safety and
development, fundamental parameters for its existence and progress. Moreover, this
event, the largest earthquake in the past 25 years, followed the huge catastrophe of the
1970 earthquake in Huaraz, Peru providing thus three decades during which a great
deal of research and strategies regarding preparedness plans have developed.
Consequently, the chosen earthquake was a valuable test on the existing capacities and
a means of assessing the need and usefulness of earthquake preparedness.

The scope of the analysis considers pre-disaster preparedness, a major component of
risk management and aims to investigate the vulnerability-reduction, institutional and
financial capacities present in the affected region of south Peru prior to the event
revealing, thus, how these have mitigated the potential impacts of the catastrophe.
Additionally, the assessment of the available strategies and processes, aims in
identifying possible inadequacies calling for improvement through revision and
redesign to ensure greater functionality and effectiveness of preparedness measures.
So far, the completed research suggests that preparedness plans seem to essential in
surviving an earthquake. However, there is a substantial need for strengthening such
plans in the context of sustainable development and there is an increased demand for
better communication and information sharing, education and training dissemination,
local community participation and networking combined with fmancial and political
stability, through a valid legislation tackling issues such as property and asset
ownership and paralegal employment. The capital and resources seem to be available. It
is the efficient and appropriate tapping of the latter that will establish a prevention
culture leading to the survival and avoidance of hazards turning into disasters in the
new century.

Course Overview


The need to engage in better problem definition through careful dialogue with all stakeholder groups and a proper recognition of context.


An ability to work with specialists from other disciplines and professional groups acknowledging that technical innovation and business skills also must be understood, nurtured and combined as precursors to the successful implementation of sustainable solutions.


An understanding of mechanisms for managing change in organisations so future engineers are equipped to play a leadership role.


An awareness of a range of assessment frameworks, sustainability metrics and methodologies such as Life Cycle Analysis, Systems Dynamics, Multi-Criteria Decision making and Impact Assessment.