Countries Benefit from Disaster Breakthrough

Thanks to the Pacific Catastrophe Risk Assessment and Financing Initiative (PCRAFI), Fiji will be among the first countries to benefit from state-of-the art techniques allowing natural disaster risk assessment, including disaster preparations for earthquakes and tropical cyclones. The initiative focuses on disaster risk assessment and disaster risk financing solutions.

The PCRAFI is a joint initiative between World Bank, Asian Development Bank and South Pacific Applied Geoscience Commission (SOPAC) and is co-funded by the Government of Japan and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR). Air Worldwide, GNS Science of New Zealand and Geoscience Australia, as well as the 15 participating countries of the Pacific, also provided technical support on the project.

Under PCRAFI, disaster management officials can access information on catastrophe vulnerability of certain areas or regions, as well as how to best manage such risks in terms. Architects of the risk modeling and profiling technique studied GIS data for the Pacific and analyzed information on population, land use, land cover, topography, bathymetry, soils and their engineering properties, assets including infrastructure and buildings, satellite images, and historical catalogues and information on cyclones, earthquakes and tsunamis, according to

The GIS database includes valuable data on Fiji and 14 other participating countries gathered from field visits and surveys of more than 80,000 buildings, satellite imagery digitization of the footprints of 450,000 buildings, as well as satellite imagery studies of 2,900,000 buildings and other assets.

Dr Russell Howorth, the director of the Applied Geoscience and Technology Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC/SOPAC), said this initiative would provide governments and the private sector with critical information needed to “inform future policies, strategies and decisions in respect of all risk reduction measures, as well as for underpinning sustainable development.”

The first two phases of PCRAFI were cofunded by the Government of Japan and the GFDRR, with Phase II coming to a close in August 2011. Initial project results were presented to Pacific islands countries and partners at the Pacific Platform for Disaster Risk Management meeting in Auckland during the first week of August.

PCRAFI planners said that applications for their research include risk assessment, urban and development planning, and disaster mitigation and prevention.

For more information about the PCRAFI, visit: