Geohazards International

Empowering Communities to Be Safer from Disasters

Menlo Park, CA   |  http://www.geohaz.org

Mission

GeoHazards International (GHI) works to end preventable death and suffering from natural disasters. We help the world's most vulnerable communities prepare for risks such as earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, extreme weather events, and the impacts of climate change. Our solutions emphasize pre-disaster mitigation, preparedness, and building local capacity to manage risk. We partner with local engineers, scientists, government agencies, universities, and building trades. Much of our work targets school and hospital readiness. We also educate people how to safeguard their families and neighborhoods. In each case we work toward locally appropriate and lasting solutions.

Ruling year info

1993

President and CEO

Ms. Veronica Cedillos

Main address

687 Bay Road

Menlo Park, CA 94025 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

76-0404723

NTEE code info

Disaster Preparedness and Relief Services (M20)

Management & Technical Assistance (S02)

Hospitals and Primary Medical Care Facilities (E20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Natural disasters strike rich and poor countries alike, but the average number of deaths per disaster is many times higher in low income countries. Every year, damages from disasters thrust millions of people in these countries into deeper poverty. Why not prevent the destructive impacts of natural hazards? Risk reduction measures and technologies exist and have been widely applied in wealthy countries. It's a smart investment. Surprisingly, only 4% of international aid for disasters is directed toward efforts, such as ours, that prepare extremely vulnerable and underserved communities. GeoHazards International aims to close the gap in readiness, so that people in any country have a fair chance to be safe and to thrive.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Implementing Aizawl's Landslide Action Plan & Reducing Extreme Landslide and Seismic Risk in Aizawl

Every year in the ridgetop city of Aizawl, landslides destroy buildings, roads and lives. These disasters result from a combination of the steep terrain, intense rainfall, and construction activity that undercuts slopes. A strong earthquake, though infrequent, will also trigger landslides--thousands at the same time.

More than 300,000 people live in Aizawl today, with an expected 820,000 by 2031. They live in multi-story buildings packed onto slopes with unstable geology. Urban growth pushes unauthorized development onto ever more fragile areas, where it increasingly triggers landslides.

The Aizawl Municipal Corporation is taking action aimed at preventing landslide disasters. We helped the city draft new regulations that control where and how people can excavate to build on slopes. The regulations require a professional geologist's inspection and approval of proposed slope modifications.

​Local geologists and engineers took part in our intensive classroom training and field courses that focused on how to investigate hazards, inspect excavations, and monitor early-stage landslides. Now they are prepared to implement the new rules with confidence. University professors and geology students also took part, and their ongoing training will serve the district for many years.

We created landslide hazard maps at 1:5000 scale for the entire Aizawl municipal district. They pinpoint hazards such as steep slopes with adverse bedding, jointed sandstone and shale layers, and historic or incipient landslides.These are the first community hazard maps at such a large scale in India.

The maps are an essential tool for enforcing the new regulations. They're big enough to identify landslide risk at the parcel level, and they mark zones connected to policy action.

With new site development regulations, trained local experts, and large-scale landslide hazard maps, the city can anticipate preventable disasters--and take action to protect people from harm.

In an earlier phase of the project, GeoHazards International's team developed a scenario that explains the consequences of a plausible-but-hypothetical magnitude 7 earthquake in Aizawl. Presenting our findings in this format helped policymakers and the public to visualize specific impacts of the risk they face. It's a stark picture: collapse of 13,000 buildings, 1,000 landslides, 25,000 fatalities, and major damage to utilities and infrastructure. More important, though, the report recommends ways to reduce earthquake and landslide risk over time.

The city is on track for a safer future. Here's our role:
- Advised the city as it launched the Landslide Policy Committee for Aizawl City--with municipal, state, and technical participants--and created a landslide safety action plan.
- Guided the Aizawl Municipal Corporation in writing new site development regulations, which control excavations that can destabilize slopes.
- Trained local professionals to implement the new regulations.
- Identified and mapped areas of high risk and created landslide hazard maps at 1:5000 scale.
- Conducted school earthquake safety programs, and facilitated participation of more than 40 schools.

Population(s) Served

Nearly half of Haiti’s population is under the age of 20. Young people are especially vulnerable, both physically and mentally, from disasters. Through Timoun an Aksyon activities, Haitian youth are gaining knowledge to understand their options and building experience to take effective action. By enabling young people to make their communities safer from extreme coastal hazards, this innovative youth-led program is turning fear into empowerment. Cap-Haïtien is Haiti’s second largest city, a port of commerce with a population of about 275,000. Its low-lying location on the north coast exposes residents to tsunamis, their most devastating hazard. The project focuses on two densely populated districts: downtown Cap-Haïtien where historic buildings line narrow streets, and La Petite Anse where people live very close to the sea and quite far from high ground.

In 1842, a tsunami set off by a powerful offshore earthquake (estimated M8.0) that killed half the people in Cap-Haïtien; La Petite Anse was totally destroyed. When a similar earthquake occurs again, tsunami waves could reach the city in 10 minutes. Evacuation during rapidly rising waters is difficult for many people, particularly children farthest from high ground. Rough estimates indicate that 50 schools, many of them in downtown Cap-Haïtien, lie in the tsunami inundation zone as mapped by UNESCO.

Hurricanes and tropical storms bring some level of destruction to Cap-Haïtien and La Petite Anse every year, and flooding occurs on a regular basis. Risk from coastal erosion and sea level rise is likely to intensify as our climate changes. The threat of earthquakes and resulting liquefaction is always present. In Haiti's 2010 earthquake, at least 220,000 people were killed and nearly half the nation’s schools damaged. In 2018, schoolchildren's panicked behavior during a minor earthquake revealed their high anxiety about disasters and little awareness of how to protect themselves.

Timoun an Aksyon brings together a diverse group of students--across public and private schools and at elementary and secondary levels--to learn the science behind disasters and organize community activities. With their own voices and style, they are sharing new knowledge with peers and the public. Local schools are also implementing disaster preparedness and emergency planning.

While schools are not in session during the COVID-19 pandemic, a special COVID Action Team is addressing this threat. Seeing a lack of basic knowledge about the virus, young people recorded safety messages that explain how to avoid catching or spreading it, and the team played these messages via handheld radios at public markets, busy beaches and a popular park. They handed out free, washable cloth masks and were told by many recipients that it means a lot to see young people helping the community.

This project is generously funded by the Moran family.

Population(s) Served

A strong earthquake affecting Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, could cause major trouble for the entire country. This program is quantifying building damage and human losses from two plausible disasters: a regional magnitude 8 (M8) earthquake similar to Bhutan’s 1714 earthquake, and a smaller magnitude 7 earthquake centered closer to Thimphu.

​The Royal Government of Bhutan, GeoHazards International, and AIR Worldwide are modeling damage to buildings from these events. Government engineers and scientists are ensuring that the data and assumptions in the model accurately reflect conditions in Thimphu.

​With risk modeling, decision makers can evaluate how various mitigation measures, if taken in advance, could reduce Thimphu’s earthquake losses. They can direct funds toward strengthening specific building types and areas of the city most vulnerable to damage. They can also plan for efficient emergency response and disaster relief.

These efforts to protect the capital and center of government are a major step to make the nation more resilient to its earthquake threat. The Main Himalayan Thrust fault that underlies Bhutan has not produced a major (~M8) earthquake for more than 300 years--but could do so at any time. Bhutan’s older buildings are not designed or constructed to endure such shaking. Even moderate earthquakes in 2009 and 2011 damaged hundreds of rural homes, schools, health facilities, and government buildings.

This project is generously funded by Verisk Analytics and supported through pro-bono technical modeling work by AIR Worldwide, a Verisk Analytics company.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

GeoHazards International's mission is to end preventable death and suffering from natural hazards. We help the world's most vulnerable communities prepare for earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, high wind, floods, major storms and impacts of climate change. Our vision is that all communities can develop their economies, governments and cultures unimpeded by natural disasters.

We help communities understand and apply the science, engineering and public policy expertise that has substantially reduced disaster losses in places such as California and Japan. Our founders saw firsthand the deadly destruction of earthquakes in developing countries, and they realized that many deaths could have been avoided. That's why GeoHazards International has focused its efforts in poor and middle income countries, where exposure to natural hazards risk is increasing due to rapid urban growth, minimal regulation, and consequent deterioration of construction quality.

We Take On Disasters BEFORE They Happen, To Save Lives and Protect Communities

THE WAY WE WORK:

- Connect leaders with expertise
Collaboration bridges gaps in experience. We connect governments with scientific, engineering, and policy expertise to address challenges.

- Advance local capabilities
Solutions endure when communities own the process. We build professional networks and capacities while joining forces to assess risk and solve problems.

- Consider the social context
Disasters are not the same for everyone. That’s why we use insights from social science and engage diverse voices.

- Communicate and inspire
Long-term solutions are never purely technical. To motivate change, we develop information that is clear, relevant to daily life, and actionable.

- Cultivate trust
Relationships of trust enable steady progress. That’s why our team includes people who are native to the regions where we work.

Technical expertise comes from our staff of geophysicists, structural engineers and disaster management specialists as well as from consultants at universities, government scientific agencies, and professional engineering and geology firms. To ensure that strategies are locally feasible, we consult with sociologists, hospital and school administrators, civic and government leaders. Staff in our international offices (India, Bhutan, Nepal, Haiti, Dominican Republic, USA) are native to these regions.

GeoHazards International has completed projects in more than 20 countries since 1991 and is consistently recognized as both innovative and effective in the field of disaster risk management. Brian Tucker, founder, was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for this work. Project support comes from agencies such as the World Health Organization, USAID, UN agencies, and the World Bank, corporations and family foundations. Many individual donors are scientists and engineers who recognize and support the value of our preventive approach.

Raised awareness of natural hazards, and ways to manage risk, in every project in more than 30 countries.
Built capacities of people and institutions to manage hazards risk. Examples:
• Helped launch a Nepal-based nonprofit devoted to earthquake engineering
• Developed the earthquake engineering curriculum for Pakistan's lead technical university
• Mentored Delhi Public Works Department engineers in seismic retrofit designs
• Trained engineers and/or geologists in Nepal, Haiti, Peru, Pakistan, Bhutan, Ecuador and India
• Seismically retrofitted village schools while training local masons
• Advised governments on development policies
• Introduced into developing countries the use of “earthquake scenarios" for planning
• Adopted “vertical" tsunami evacuation concept from Japan and the US, applied it in developing countries.
• Designed elevated recreational park, to be used for vertical tsunami evacuation

What's Next: more natural hazards, more communities

Financials

Geohazards International
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
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Geohazards International

Board of directors
as of 10/14/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Mr. Christopher Rojahn

Gregory Deierlein

Stanford University

Kenneth Kornberg

Kornberg Associates

S. Lee

Laura Samant

Laura Samant Consulting

Joseph Tortorella

Silman

Kim Boswell

Debbie Clifford

Survey Monkey

Maria Kiskis

Neustar

Maryse Penette-Kedar

PRODEV

Christopher Rojahn

Yasunori Shoji

OYO Corporation

James Brune

emeritus

Veronica Cedillos

President

Bruce Clark

Jeremy Isenberg

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/14/2020

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? GuideStar partnered on this section with CHANGE Philanthropy and Equity in the Center.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Hispanic/Latino/Latina/Latinx
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender (cisgender)
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

No data

Gender identity

No data

 

No data

Sexual orientation

No data

Disability

No data