INTRO | HIGHLIGHTS | FEATURES | PHOTO STORIES | FOCUS | INTERVIEWS | PERSPECTIVES | BIOS Government housing reconstruction in Bangladesh after the Cyclone Sidr disaster Landslide fatality numbers severely underestimated A new database developed by Professor Dave Petley from the International Landslide Centre at Durham University, can help policymakers manage landslide hazards and risks that have been severely underestimated in the past. According to the Durham Fatal Landslide Database, 32,322 people died in 2,620 landslides between 2004 and 2010. Previous estimates ranged from 3,000 to 7,000 fatalities. The database allows researchers and policymakers to identify areas most at risk where more effective earthquake plans and response could help save thousands of lives. It provides the first detailed analysis of fatal landslides across the world, identifying vulnerable regions in China, Central and South America, India and many others. The research underpinning the database focused on non-seismic processes, which excludes earthquakes. More fatal landslides were recorded from May to October with monsoon rainfall as the dominant trigger. Extreme rainfall events such as cyclones can trigger landslides in Asia while hurricanes have the same effect in parts of the Caribbean and Central America. The database is compiled from government statistics, aid agency reports and research papers. The actual numbers of landslide-induced fatalities could be higher than records suggest, as some landslide-prone regions do not report all deaths caused by landslides. Key Finding: Regions with a combination of extreme changes in landscape, intense rainfall, and a high population density are most likely to experience high numbers of fatal landslides. Seismic activity also plays a fundamental role in creating weakened slopes that lead to landslides triggered by subsequent rainfall. ‘Global patterns of loss of life from landslides’. Geology, 40, 10. doi: 10.1130/G33217.1 New research by Dr Md Nadiruzzaman, whose PhD in IHRR and the Department of Geography was funded by the Christopher Moyes Memorial Foundation, has found that housing reconstruction efforts made by the government of Bangladesh after the Cyclone Sidr disaster in 2007 were inadequate and in some cases posed health risks. In coastal Bangladesh 1.5 million homes were completely or partially destroyed leaving many people homeless (nearly four times the number of homes destroyed by the 2004 Indian Ocean Tsunami). The study focuses on communities living in the village of Gabtola in southern Bangladesh, which was hardest hit by the cyclone in terms of death toll and damage. The research shows that the government failed to deliver homes in Gabtola of better quality that could withstand hazards, in fact, many local people found them to be unliveable. The new homes were not sufficiently resilient to withstand cyclone hazards, nor were they cost-effective or conducive to the livelihoods of communities expected to live in them. While the study notes that the government of Bangladesh has succeeded in improving people’s lives after Cyclone Sidr by preventing mortality caused by diarrheal disease for example, there is much work to be done in improving its ‘build back better’ housing scheme for those left homeless after the disaster. Findings from the research have implications for revising and improving postdisaster housing programmes for disaster recovery. ‘Post-Sidr Public Housing Assistance in Bangladesh: A Case Study’. Environmental Hazards. doi:10.1080/ 17477891.2012.759523 Number of fatalities caused by non-seismic landslides 2004-10.