Disaster Risk Reduction

Disasters deprive people of their lives and livelihoods, damage infrastructure and productivity, and widen inequality. Vulnerable communities are plunged back into poverty. Women, girls and boys are fourteen times more likely than men to die during a disaster. Over the past decade, the number of people exposed to natural hazards has tripled to more than two billion worldwide, and the associated costs have quadrupled.

Our key interventions in this field focus on:

  • Flood Resilience
  • Multi -Hazard Disaster Risk Management
  • Early Warning Systems
  • Strengthening Market System Resilience
  • Needs Analysis and scoping studies
  • Research, piloting and evaluation
  • Technical Advisory Services
  • Knowledge documentation and dissemination

Participatory digital mapping: building community resilience in Nepal, Peru and Mexico

The Zurich Flood Resilience Alliance (ZFRA) has developed an approach that combines state-of-the-art collaborative digital mapping techniques with community-based participatory methods. The process engages a broad range of actors such as local volunteers, local government, and national and international non- governmental organizations (NGOs), with digital mapping experts to co-produce critical local food exposure information. Applications to communities in Nepal, Peru, and Mexico demonstrate the immense potential for making an essential contribution to building community resilience.

Improving Flood Early Warning Lead Time in Nepal

Flood early warning systems based on real-time monitoring of water levels leave
communities with little time to respond to flood warnings. A new approach introduces probabilistic forecasting, providing information about the likelihood of
flooding and resulting in an additional five hours of early warning. This increased lead time means that families gain crucial hours to get to safety and act to protect themselves, their homes and their livelihoods. 

Improving understanding of flooding and resilience in the Terai, Nepal

Rivers sourced from the Himalaya irrigate the Indo-Gangetic Plain via major river networks that support approximately 10% of the global population and their livelihoods. However, many of these rivers are also the source of devastating floods. This brief captures the collaboration between an interdisciplinary team of geoscientists, engineers, social scientists and architects from the University of Edinburgh alongside practitioners from the NGO Practical Action and the Nepal Department of Hydrology and Meteorology. The teams applied new science and appropriate technology, and conducted research with communities to better understand flood risk in the Karnali river basin, Western Nepal from an interdisciplinary perspective. 

Dynamic Flood Topographies in the Terai, Nepal: Community Perceptions and Resilience (DISTAL)

This research project was undertaken through a joint collaboration of the University of Edinburgh, Practical Action Consulting (PAC) and supported by Department of Hydrology and Meteorology (DHM), Nepal. It was focussed in the Karnali flood plains, a Midwestern region of Nepal to understand flood risk through a team of local practitioners and international experts. The University of Edinburgh led the research project while PAC facilitated the field visits, supported engagements with local partners, and supported access to relevant data and creation of knowledge products. As part of the project, a workshop was conducted and attended by representatives from the DHM as well as national and international NGOs. The introductory sessions provided an overview regarding the DISTAL project, the status of flood early warning system in Nepal and the need for understanding the geomorphological behaviour of the catchment to fully understand flood risk. The three presentations in the session came from the University of Edinburgh, DHM and Institute of Engineering.,

Practical Action Consulting has been working with an interdisciplinary team from the University of Edinburgh, conducting innovative research to enhance understanding of the flood risk posed to communities in the Karnali river basin in Western Nepal. This brief outlines the findings and potential impacts of this research for strengthening flood preparedness and resilience for these communities who depend on the river for their livelihood and yet are vulnerable to devastating loss and damage caused by flooding.

Our flagship disaster risk reduction project

From Vulnerability to Resilience

The V2R+ Project of Bangladesh is a part of Zurich Insurance Group’s Global Flood Resilience Programme. It aims to improve the resilience of 60,000 flood-vulnerable households in two districts of Bangladesh.

Read more

See more of our work on disaster risk reduction

Contact us


telephone: +44 (0) 1926 634403

fax: +44 (0) 1926 634405



Practical Action Consulting
The Robbins Building
25 Albert Street
Rugby, Warwickshire
CV21 2SD, United Kingdom


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