Averted Disaster Award 2022

Honorable Mention

GeoHazards International, Landslide and Earthquake Risk Reduction, Aizawl India

We are proud to honor GeoHazards International and their efforts in landslide and earthquake risk reduction in Aizawl, India as a 2022 Averted Disaster Award Honorable Mention.

Since 2011 GeoHazards International (GHI) has served as a technical partner and advisor to the city of Aizawl, India in order to assist as they make progress in disaster resilience. Aizawl is a city in northeast India, located in its highest seismic hazard zone V where earthquakes of intensities above IX are expected. In addition to the high risk of earthquakes, annual monsoon rains in the area also trigger frequent and sometimes deadly landslides. With a population of 300,000 (per 2011 census), that is expected to double by 2030, the GHI team recognized the significant risk to life and livelihoods and the importance of implementing development practices to increase the city’s resilience in the face of a disaster.

In order influence the community to proactively implement interventions, GHI developed a scenario to demonstrate the consequences of a moderate, not worst-case, but hypothetical magnitude 7 earthquake and shaking triggered landslides. They presented their findings to policymakers and the public to help them visualize the specific impacts of the risk they face. This painted a stark picture of the collapse of 14,000 buildings (nearly 30% of all buildings), over 1,000 landslides and 25,000 fatalities (over 8% of the population at the time) as well as major damage to utilities and infrastructure. The estimates were even worse during monsoon season when wet conditions make slopes more prone to sliding.

GHI team members assisted the city as it launched the Landslide Policy Committee for Aizawl Municipal Corporation (AMC) with municipal, state, and technical participants. The Committee created a landslide safety Action Plan to prevent or remediate landslides based on the findings from the scenario, many of which have been or are in the process of being implemented. Examples of actions taken include:

· New site development regulations, which include controls on excavations that can destabilize slopes.

  • High risk areas identified, mapped and used to create landslide hazard maps. These maps make it possible to enforce the site development regulations.
  • Local professionals were trained on the new regulations.
  • Hiring of geologists to implement the site development regulations.
  • AMC empaneled 95 geologists, 142 engineers, 7 geotechnical engineers, and 9 firms to cater to the increased demands for regulatory approvals following the slope modification regulations.

Aizawl has become a model city for other fast-growing hill cities in the region. It’s the only city in India with municipal geologists that guide the city towards safer development. It’s also the only Indian city with slope modification regulations and detailed landslide hazard maps to enforce the regulations. India’s National Disaster Management Agency recognized Aizawl as an example for hill cities across the country.

GeoHazards International attributes persistence, sustained efforts and genuine local engagement as the keys to making a lasting difference.

Congratulations to GeoHazards International!

For more information about GeoHazards International visit GeoHazards International | Menlo Park | Disaster Preparedness