Times Higher Education Awards 2011

Times Higher Education

CDR was the University of Salford nomination for the Times Higher Education Awards 2011 - International Collaboration of the Year 2011 and we were shortlisted for this prestigious award.

This award recognises exceptional projects carried out jointly between a British institution and one or more international partners and in our case, between University of Salford and the Chamber of Construction Industry, Sri Lanka. It has the potential to impact the University in terms of international ranking and expertise, giving access to new networks and alliances, and sharing best practice.

Brief details of our submission including reasons for the submission are provided here:

The North & East (N&E) regions of Sri Lanka have suffered disasters resulting from exposure to hazards of natural and human origins. They remain exposed to significant levels of disaster risk while also facing major development challenges due to the inequitable distribution of resources and uneven economic growth between urban and rural areas. The N&E were severely affected by the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004 and have been disrupted by the 30 year insurgency against the government by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

While war in the N&E of Sri Lanka has ended, sustainable peace is not so easily forthcoming.

The University of Salford’s Centre for Disaster Resilience has been working on a series of projects to contribute to conflict mitigation and recovery. They have helped to better understand and develop local capacity to reconstruct housing, public buildings and infrastructure to restore dignity, provide job opportunities and increase social cohesion.

The team faced numerous challenges, such as a complex post-war dynamic, multiple native languages and diverse needs among vulnerable populations. In order to address these challenges, the Salford team developed partnerships with relevant stakeholder groups in Sri Lanka including five Sri Lankan Universities (Moratuwa, Colombo, Peradeniya, Ruhuna and Eastern).

A recent study led by the Salford team included identifying the needs and ways to empower women through the physical reconstruction process. Women are frequently marginalised in post-war and post-disaster environments but have a valuable role in helping to sustain peace, while also bringing distinct and much needed skills to the construction sector. Another study is seeking to understand how infrastructure reconstruction programmes affect social cohesion among local communities, particularly among women, youth and the elderly.

Salford recognised the importance of engaging with influential policy makers who can act upon its findings. Since 2005, the team has worked with government ministries and the umbrella body of the local construction industry to identify and address research gaps, and develop local capacity to address challenges.  For example, Salford recently partnered with the national Chamber of Construction Industry on a programme of construction skills training.

Along with the Sri Lankan Ministry of Disaster Management, Salford is the lead partner on the the UN International Strategy Disaster Reduction 2010 – 2015 campaign ‘Making Cities Resilient’, which involves working with government to address disaster risk. This work is in conjunction with local universities UNDP Sri Lanka and UNESCO IOC, and a major International Conference on Building Resilience will be chaired in Sri Lanka during July 2011. The conference will bring together local and international academics, private industry and government to develop society’s resilience to hazards of natural and human origin, and will culminate in a policy briefing for key governmental decision makers.

The Centre for Disaster Resilience’s involvement in the UN campaign brings direct influence to global efforts to help cities and governments get ready and become resilient to disasters. The team is proud of its work to help re-build Sri Lanka which can be used as a model of best practice around the world.