Reducing Earthquake Losses in the South Asia Region (RELSAR) programme
Among the numerous natural disasters that the countries of Asia have experienced, earthquakes have historically had great impacts. The most recent and devastating earthquakes in Pakistan in 2005, Sichuan province in 2008 and Qinghai province of China in 2010 reveal the seismoactivity of the region and vulnerability of the population to it. It is necessary to mobilize scientific knowledge and technological know-how to assess earthquake hazards and to strengthen disaster mitigation measures.
To this end, regional collaboration needs to be encouraged. Since 1999 UNESCO and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) have been cooperating with scientific and engineering organizations in the South Asia region under the Reduction of Earthquake Losses in the South Asia Region (RELSAR) programme.
The purpose of the programme is to provide a platform for examining regional approaches to improve seismic data and earthquake risk mitigation. A number of collaborative activities have taken place under this initiative, including eight workshops that have been held since the start of the programme in 1999.
The goals of the programme (similar to the RELEMR project) cover several areas:
- Seismology: data exchange and improve data on earthquake locations and earthquake magnitudes, to create the regional seismicity map;
- Geology; improve understanding of regional tectonic processes;
- Earthquake engineering: to create regional ground-shaking maps; to do the probabilistic seismic hazard assessment and to include earthquake provisions in building codes.
The following countries are participants of RELSAR projects: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, France, India, Indonesia, Iran Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Thailand, USA and UK.
In the past years, UNESCO, USGS, GFZ and other earth science organizations in the South Asia region organized and have sponsored a series of workshops and training courses in Central Asia dealing with seismology, seismic hazard and risk assessment and mitigation aiming to reduce earthquake losses and strengthen scientific cooperation initiatives devoted to the South Asia Region. In 2013, the first International Workshop for Regional Cooperation in Seismology and Earthquake Engineering in South and Central Asia was held in Kathmandu, Nepal. It was hosted by the National Society for Earthquake Technology - Nepal (NSET) and was attended by 70 scientists and engineers from 15 countries.