Strengthening capacities for the use of GIS in disaster risk reduction
Abstract: Geographic Information Systems (GIS) are a powerful tool for supporting disaster risk reduction (DRR). International agreements such as the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction call on high-income countries and other partners to support lower-income countries in strengthening their DRR capacities. This thesis explores the experiences of stakeholders in strengthening GIS capacities for DRR in lower and middle-income countries. It presents the theoretical concepts of DRR and capacity development as well as the applications of GIS in DRR. Based on semi-structured interviews with practitioners from different regions and a literature review, this thesis analyses practices and challenge encountered in strengthening GIS capacities for DRR as well as possibilities for overcoming these challenges. The findings show that there is a broad range of initiatives for strengthening GIS capacities. Whilst some of the challenges such as culture, politics and power relations are specific to the context, this study finds that stakeholders in different context often experience similar challenges such as lack of data, costs of GIS and lack of decision-maker support for GIS. Sustaining the capacities in the long-term was identified as a major challenge. To overcome these challenges and make GIS capacity development sustainable this thesis recommends tailoring the GIS solutions to the specific situation, developing low-cost solutions, integrating GIS into the organisational structure and demonstrating the benefits of GIS for DRR to decision-makers. This requires a long-term approach and strong stakeholder involvement in the capacity development process.
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