Science for Humanitarian Emergencies and Resilience (SHEAR) is an interdisciplinary, international research programme jointly funded for five years by the UK's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) and the Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC).

It aims to support improved disaster resilience and humanitarian response by advancing monitoring, assessment and prediction of natural hazards and risks across sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. SHEAR is working with stakeholders to co-produce demand-led, people-centred science and solutions to improve risk assessment, preparedness, early action and resilience to natural hazards.

The programme comprises research and application components that aim to better understand the multifaceted and complex drivers of risk. Research institutions, international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and hydro-meteorological services are collaborating to deliver world-leading, interdisciplinary, end-to-end research with the goal of improving the characterisation and prediction of hazards, and analysing the evidence to support decision making processes for early action.

Infographic describing the SHEAR programme


Disasters related to natural hazards have caused more than 2.5 million fatalities since 1980 alone, 95 per cent of which were in developing countries.

Disasters also result in severe economic losses, undermining development progress from macro to micro levels and reinforcing poverty and its impacts on households, communities and countries. The destruction, damage and loss of property, crops, livestock, assets, roads, schools, health services, utilities and other vital infrastructure can set back decades of development and take decades to fully recover from.

As the effects of climate change become increasingly tangible, vulnerable and hazard-prone communities face growing, complex, and worsening challenges.

The importance of data and science in disaster resilience, preparedness and humanitarian response was recognised by the Sendai Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction: 'Understanding Risk' is one of its four priority areas. Large amounts of scientific data on risk and forecasting have been generated, however, these data are often not incorporated into pre-disaster preparedness or response planning, leading to missed opportunities to increase resilience or to design more effective humanitarian responses to natural hazard-related disasters.

SHEAR aims to close the gap between the generation and uptake of data, and support the goals of the Framework, by providing the scientific knowledge, tools and capacity to enhance understanding of risk. This will help to achieve the seven targets of this priority area, including, and most directly, the final target: 'Substantially increase the availability of and access to multihazard early warning systems and disaster risk information and assessments to the people by 2030'.


The outcome of SHEAR will be increased resilience in communities that are vulnerable to natural hazard-related disasters.

Disaster resilience will be enhanced through improved forecasting and decision-making for disaster preparedness and response.

The research will also examine and explore the delivery of new, tailored knowledge and tools to support effective risk management, early warning and forecast-based action.

Scientific objectives

  • Strengthening understanding of the underlying drivers of risk toward more integrated, multihazard risk monitoring and warning systems.
  • Getting the right information to the right people in the right ways — delivering demand-led, people-centred science and solutions with demonstrated application in the real world.

Cross-cutting themes

  • Real-time monitoring of vulnerability and risk, including through novel applications of satellite and remote-sensing data, social media, socioeconomic data, big data and others.
  • Economics and social science of the communication and use of risk information in disaster resilience, preparedness and response.
  • Assessing and improving the reliability of forecasts for application in multihazard early-warning systems and disaster resilience.

Focus of research projects

  • Improving risk assessment, prediction of drought and flooding and decision-making processes for forecast-based action across sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Enhancing multihazard risk assessment and monitoring across south Asia, with a focus on the interaction of 'cascading' hazards such as landslides.