Tulane University in New Orleans has announced a $5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help universities in disaster-prone regions of the developing world establish a network of disaster education and development programs.
The grant will enable Tulane's Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (DRLA) to expand to Africa and Asia, where it will partner with local universities to establish, strengthen, and sustain experts in disaster planning, response, and risk reduction. The project seeks to strengthen existing community leaders through short courses and graduate certificate programs; create graduate-level degree programs that in turn develop a long-term leadership pipeline; and establish a global network for academics and practitioners to collaborate, connect, and share lessons learned in disaster management.
DRLA will partner with regional networks such as the Asian Disaster Preparedness Center in Thailand and the Higher Education Alliance for Leadership Through Health in East Africa, which together represent seventeen universities across two continents.
"Disasters are not natural," said DRLA executive director Ky Luu. "They are manmade reactions to natural hazards and conflict. Although we cannot prevent natural hazards, we certainly can reduce their negative impacts by planning smart, being well-prepared and responding quickly and effectively, all of which requires strong local leadership. These strategies will save lives, protect livelihoods, and alleviate suffering in vulnerable communities."