What work did SHEAR do?

Advances by projects in key areas

   Understanding hazard risk

SHEAR projects have examined a range of hazards, including landslides, droughts, floods, heatwaves and storms, and worked to monitor and analyse the conditions under which they occur, how they develop, their drivers, characteristics and inputs.

Key resources

Earthquakes and landslides in Nepal

The earthquake that hit Nepal on 25 April 2015 was the worst the country had experienced in 90 years. This brief outlines the research SHEAR projects have been conducting to improve the understanding of aftershock and landslide risks, so that disaster risk reduction planning can be improved, and resilience strengthened.

Applied Earth observations for the disaster management sector

Earth observations can support crucial humanitarian activities such as disaster management and disaster risk assessment. This knowledge product explores examples of how Earth observations have been used within the disaster management and disaster risk reduction contexts alongside a discussion of the current uses, ethics, and the future of Earth observation data.

Improved data to better understand exposure, vulnerabilities and hazards

Data plays a key role in preparing for and responding to disaster risks. With improved quality, availability and accessibility of hazard-related data, disaster impacts can be better defined and anticipated. This brief explores key improvements in data delivered by SHEAR projects.

   Developing early warning

SHEAR has been working to develop early warning for fast and slow-onset hazards, including floods, landslides and droughts, and exploring key aspects of the governance and communication of early warning as well as monitoring and detecting hazard events. Research has included innovative applications of technologies from satellite observations to social media, and has assessed different approaches to early warning to understand their effectiveness and applicability for different hazards and contexts.

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Closing the gap between policy and practice: the role of institutional mapping

Institutional mapping is a vital process to bridge the gap between policy and practice. This brief outlines lessons learned about the importance of stakeholder mapping and effective practice drawn from the development of a prototype landslide early warning system in India.

Use of social media for early warning systems

The recent growth in technology and use of social media provide an opportunity for additional streams of information for decision making, and channels for disseminating early warning and risk information. This document outlines some of the ways social media can be used in natural hazard early warning systems, providing examples of where it is already being used.

Using mobile phone technologies for disaster risk management: reflections from SHEAR

In October 2020, SHEAR hosted a virtual workshop that explored the use of mobile technologies to support disaster risk management. The workshop brought together approximately 45 members from 20 organisations across the SHEAR programme and a selection of external experts to share and record their experiences.

The breadth and depth of expertise and experience from workshop participants provided an opportunity to gather key learnings and examine common challenges and opportunities where mobile technologies could be usefully harnessed through different stages of the DRM lifecycle, and across different regions. This publication summarises the key learnings from the workshop: how mobile phone technologies are used in DRM, and the opportunities and lessons for applied research.

Introduction to landslide early warning systems

The SHEAR programme supports world-leading research to enhance the quality, availability and use of risk and forecast information. This paper aims to synthesise learning and knowledge from across SHEAR to produce a short introduction to landslide early warning systems for practitioners, donors, and researchers in developing countries.

Introduction to local landslide early warning systems

This introductory guide includes an overview of monitoring and warning methods, the role of community engagement, and challenges to local landslide early warning systems.

Introduction to regional landslide early warning systems

This introductory guide includes an overview of data used, institutional roles, and dissemination and communication approaches for regional landslide early warning systems.

   Developing early action

Coordinating the planning and implementation of humanitarian preparedness, response and recovery also requires navigating different roles and responsibilities, mandates and capacities. SHEAR projects have been working to support decision makers by addressing these challenges in relation to a range of hazards, developing effective communication to support stakeholders with the information they need, when they need it, to inform effective disaster preparedness, response and recovery.

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SHEAR in crises

Forecasting extreme weather events is one of the main aims of SHEAR. The programme's extensive research has already been put into practice during recent humanitarian emergencies, notably through forecast-based action programmes in the Red Cross Red Crescent. The stories of SHEAR research being used provide a strong evidence base for the value of such work and collaborations, and are outlined in this brief.

Linking social protection and forecast-based action

There has been a growing interest in exploring the scope for linking forecast-based action (FbA) and social protection (SP). In this forward looking brief, we have explored the potential questions and areas of exploration that require further research in order to understand the feasibility of integrating FbA and SP.

Tools and guides to put learning into practice

   Monitoring, modelling and forecasting

Advances in weather forecasting science have greatly improved our ability to understand where, when and how severely hazard events are likely to occur. However, in contexts of data scarcity, the accuracy and reliability of forecasts is limited and, as a result, so is their usefulness for institutional decision makers.

SHEAR projects have been carrying out innovative research to address the key challenges of forecasting for humanitarian emergencies and resilience, working in partnership with stakeholders in government and civil society to strengthen preparedness and contingency planning.

Key resources

Improved forecasting helps people prepare for the weather and the seasons

This brief outlines SHEAR’s advances made in developing new or improved forecast products for various natural hazards and their impacts in Asia and Africa. SHEAR projects have worked to advance the quality of the forecast information to support preparedness, by increasing the confidence, credibility and usability of forecasting science.

The future of forecasts: impact-based forecasting for early action

This guide outlines the steps and tools needed to develop impact-based forecasting, from understanding risk to producing, issuing and verifying fit-for-purpose, impact-based forecasts and warnings. Designed with and for people working in impact-based forecasting, early warning and early action, the compiled information and recommendations will be useful for everyone from technical staff in national hydrological and meteorological services to disaster risk management, humanitarian and development agencies. The guide includes case studies from countries around the world to highlight the development and use of impact-based forecasting services for users and producers.

Seasonal forecast toolkit

This is a series of short, practical guidance documents with advice on how to interpret and use seasonal forecasts. Seasonal forecasts are a popular forecast product with the added attractiveness of long lead times. However, they are not a panacea, and these guidance documents share the circumstances under which they can be useful for decision-making.

   Interdisciplinary collaboration

SHEAR projects worked across a range of fields and disciplines to address complex, dynamic and nuanced issues of risk and resilience. Expertise from physical sciences, social sciences, disaster risk management practice and governance, and financing and insurance combined to deliver multifaceted, holistic approaches to key challenges of disaster risk and resilience. This interdisciplinary approach was integral to the successes of SHEAR in improving forecasting, data, tools, decision making and disaster risk management capacity, and yielded extensive learning about effective approaches to interdisciplinary collaboration.

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Learning from SHEAR: interdisciplinary collaboration

SHEAR projects are designed and implemented as consortia, with partners from diverse institutions and disciplines contributing their expertise. Multi-institutional partnerships help to ensure that research is conceptualised, designed, tested and taken up by critical stakeholders embedded in relevant institutional, political, social and economic systems. This brief outlines learnings relating to interdisciplinary collaboration.

Early action thesaurus

As a new way of thinking and acting, anticipatory action comes with a new parlance and vocabulary. This thesaurus is intended to enable reflection on the similarities and differences in the way organisations use language associated with the concept of anticipatory humanitarian action. Its purpose is not to define terms but to facilitate mutual understanding and thus coordination and collaboration across the multitude of organisations operating in this space.

A guide to effective collaboration and learning in consortia

Working in the complex context of climate change adaptation and resilience, individuals and organisations are often required to work together in consortia across disciplinary, institutional, geographical and cultural boundaries. Working in large consortia offers great opportunities for addressing complex problems. However, diversity of backgrounds and approaches to issues means that joint identification of challenges and solutions can be complex. This guide shares some examples and lessons learnt from a range of consortia operating across different programmes.

Putting science into practice for improved disaster resilience

Interdisciplinarity is central to the SHEAR programme, encouraging physical scientists and social scientists to work together with in-country practitioner partners to address natural hazard and forecasting challenges. This snapshot explores experience and learning about bringing together institutions and individuals from across three 'pillars' — social sciences, physical sciences and disaster risk management practitioners — to achieve successful applied research for disaster resilience and response.

Research roadmap: forecast-based financing

The objective of forecast-based financing (FbF) is to enhance humanitarian action to protect the lives and livelihoods of the most vulnerable from the effects of weather and climate related disasters. To move forward with this ambitious agenda, there are a number of critical research questions remaining. This roadmap identifies five goals for the success of FbF, lists critical research questions that need to be addressed to help achieve these goals, and identifies several priority research questions related to incentives of different actors.

   User-centred communication

Advances in forecasting science and early warning have the potential to lead to increased resilience to hazards, with more and better information about hazard risk available to stakeholders. However, this information needs to reach stakeholders in ways that are useful for them, aligned with their priorities, and meeting their needs. SHEAR projects explored key ways to communicate risk with the stakeholders, with a focus on visualisation as a way to illustrate complex information in ways that support decision making.

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User-centred design for disaster risk visualisation

There are many widely recognised advantages to communicating information through visualisations. Visualisations improve users’ ability to make informed decisions, complete tasks and understand a situation. However, the context within which disaster risk operates is highly complex. This document presents a user-centred design framework that can be utilised to develop visualisations for different user groups and across different disaster contexts.

Visualisation of early warning messages

There are many widely recognised cognitive advantages to communicating data, information and knowledge through visual representations rather than written or verbal words. Visualisations improve users’ ability to make an informed decision or complete a specific task, and can result in better understanding or behaviour changes. This document provides guidance on aspects to consider when designing visualisation of early warning information.

   Governance and policy

Effective governance is vital to put learning about early warning and early action into practice. Disaster risk management involves a range of stakeholders across sectors and with different mandates, necessitating appropriate resourcing, coordination, and cohesion in decision-making. SHEAR projects have generated extensive learning about putting research into practice, and ensuring that stakeholder needs are at the centre of disaster risk management governance and policy.

Key resources

Improved decision making to act in anticipation of hazards

SHEAR worked with stakeholders at all levels and across sectors to improve anticipatory capacities and decision-making processes to enhance action in the face of future hazards. This brief outlines advances made in decision making for disaster preparedness, response and recovery.

Putting stakeholder needs at the centre

Key stakeholders, including at-risk populations, need to be at the centre of research prioritisation, design and delivery. Putting the needs of stakeholders at the centre is critical to achieving programme objectives, and to ensuring long-term sustainability. This brief explores key learning from across the SHEAR programme related to stakeholder engagement.

Lessons for future funding

Effective investment in research can enhance disaster preparedness and resilience, saving lives and protecting communities. This brief explores key learning from across the SHEAR programme related to funding sustainable, high-impact research to improve disaster resilience.