New Elliott program to prepare developing nations for disaster

This post was written by staff writer Colleen Grablick.

A new program in the Elliott School of International Affairs will partner with a dozen countries across the globe to prepare local leaders to respond to and recover from disasters, according to a University release.

The Initiative for Disaster Resilience and Humanitarian Affairs is a multi-million dollar initiative which will combine education and research with on-the-ground training to strengthen leadership and increase disaster resilience in developing countries. The program opens nearly three months after Elliott School Dean Reuben Brigety unveiled new programs to expand global outreach and policy for the school.

“Questions of humanitarian assistance–from responding to natural disasters to managing the flow of refugees–are a critical part of the international affairs landscape,” Brigety said in the release. “With the arrival of Ky Luu and the Initiative for Disaster Resilience and Humanitarian Affairs in the Elliott School, GW will become a clear leader in training young people and finding solutions for the world’s toughest humanitarian challenges.”

The other announced program, an initiative on gender equality in international affairs, is set to open later this year.

As part of the disaster initiative, the University will bring three new experts to educate and train leaders worldwide.

Ky Luu, a GW Law School alumnus, will head the program. Luu founded the Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy at Tulane University, which will collaborate with this new program, and directed the U.S. Agency for International Development’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance.

The initiative will focus on social, economic, and environmental research to equip foreign leaders with strategies to help countries withstand disasters, according to the release. The program will work with countries across Africa, Southeast Asia and South America.

The initiative plans to partner with Makerere University in Uganda as well as the ResilientAfrica Network, which strengthens resilience in African communities with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development, the release states. The University will also work with several other American universities to create data-driven programs to assist foreign leaders in disaster recovery and resilience, funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Several government and foundation grants will fund the initiative, including about $4 million in previous funding which will be transferred to the University, according to the release.

The initiative will host interdisciplinary opportunities with the business school, the Milken Institute School of Public health, the anthropology and geography departments and the Global Women’s Institute, according to the release.

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