Ms. Apsara Pandey of the Nursing Association of Nepal holds her 2017 Risk Award trophy, flanked by Mr. David Stevens of UNISDR (right), and jury members Ms. Sandra Wu, board member of the UNISDR Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies, and Mr. Thomas Loster, Chairman of the Munch Re Foundation (Photo: UNISDR)
By Jonathan Fowler
CANCUN, Mexico, 24 May 2017 – A cutting-edge plan to deploy the power of technology to monitor health risks in Nepal has won an international award at the 2017 Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction.
Risk Award laureate the Nursing Association of Nepal won the prize for its “EpiNurse” project – short for “Epidemiology Nurse” – which will equip nurses in the Himalayan nation with monitoring and surveillance tools to prevent and control infectious diseases after disasters.
“EpiNurse’s role is to ensure that disaster risk is reduced,” said Ms. Apsara Pandey of the Nursing Association of Nepal, after receiving the award.
“Our network is very powerful when it comes to collecting vital information. Nurses are able to identify high risk and vulnerable populations. Human contact in disaster-prone areas can build disaster risk knowledge and contribute to reducing risk,” she said.
The goal of EpiNurse is to train frontline health workers in earthquake-prone urban areas to act as health security monitors. The information collected through the monitoring process will feed a database that will help experts to further develop models that support risk-management decisions in disaster situations and thereby help to reduce future risks.
Monitoring and curbing health risks in the wake of disasters such is the epitome of what is known as a multi-hazard approach to risk. Looking at a swathe of hazards as part of a single picture is the bedrock of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, a 15-year international agreement adopted in 2015. Governments meeting at the Global Platform in Cancun, Mexico, are taking stock of efforts to implement the Sendai Framework.
Issued every two years by the Munich Re Foundation, the UN office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and the Global Risk Forum Davos, the Risk Award honours innovative plans and approaches to reducing risk and enhancing disaster management. The 100,000-euro prize, provided by Munich Re, enables the winners to move from the drawing board to the real thing.
“The aim is to improve global risk prevention,” underlined Mr. Thomas Loster, Chairman of the Munich Re Foundation. “The prize money goes directly to project implementation.”
The theme of this year’s edition of the Risk Award was “Innovative concepts and technologies for information and communication”, with the entrants presenting digital projects to help communities better anticipate disasters.
After intense deliberations that helped identify the ten best entrants, the Risk Award jury in February released a final shortlist of three. Besides EpiNurse, the other two projects were in Kenya and India.
“I consider myself lucky because I was able to read about projects that use innovation, on the ground, to solve very specific issues,” said jury member Ms. Sandra Wu, a board member of the UNISDR Private Sector Alliance for Disaster Resilient Societies, or ARISE.
“Simply adapting an existing technology to new uses, and the act of innovation, may look very similar at first glance. Risk Award applicants thought beyond simply using a flashy new technology in a new way or a new location, which is an adaptation, and showed the world what innovation might actually look like.”
Kenyan shortlistee the Multiface Research & Development Centre focuses on warning farmers about flood risk in Busia, in the southwest of the country. It aims to create a mobile application that integrates indigenous traditional knowledge and modern climate science and issue early warning messages to some 15,000 subsistence-farming families in flood-prone parts of Budalang’i district.
Indian candidate the Micro Insurance Academy Social Re Consultancy is planning to develop a micro-insurance application to help communities in the country recover faster from disasters linked to climate change. It aims to offer farmers the possibility to pay insurance premiums according to their real risks. The project targets poor farmers in flood-prone areas of North Bihar, who will be able to save money and recover faster after disasters.
The 2015 Risk Award honoured the All-India Institute of Local Self-Government for its project to encourage slum-dwelling women and children to take part in the disaster management process to better protect their communities. The project supported over 25,000 residents from more than 10 slums in the city of Pune and helped women to play a key role in protecting their communities against flooding and mudslides.
In addition to Ms. Wu, Mr. Loster and Mr. Robert Glasser, the UN’s Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Risk Award jury is made up of other experts in disaster risk reduction from a range of backgrounds: Mr. Walter Ammann, the Founder and President of Global Risk Forum Davos; Dr. Susan Cutter, Distinguished Professor of Geography at the University of South Carolina; Ms. Anisya Thomas Fritz, co-founder of Fritz Institute; Ms. Maria Emily Lubega Mutagamba, Minister of Tourism of Uganda; and Professor Haresh Shah, a pioneer in the fields of risk analysis, earthquake engineering, and probabilistic methods for over 35 years.