Shimla is a teeming city, with a population of 140,000. It is located in the north Indian Himalayas, in an area of high
seismicity that was rocked by a devastating earthquake a hundred years ago. However, it is oblivious of the ticking time
bomb below its foundations. Initiating risk reduction in this fast growing urban economic hub is an enormous challenge.
A national non-governmental organisation (NGO) called SEEDS (Sustainable Environment and Ecological
Development Society) started working in the city just before the earthquake centenary, with the aim to identify ways of
reducing earthquake risk through actions that could be carried out by the citizens and the local government.
The experience has been unique, and has led to further refinement of the community action planning approach that
SEEDS (Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society) has picked up and worked with over the last ten
years in different vulnerable communities in the region. What emerges from the experience is a mix of tools for the
improvement of technical aspects, community-based working approaches and governance for risk reduction. It is evident
that community-local government-NGO partnerships are the key to solving such acute problems as earthquake
safety in a resource strapped, vulnerable city. The assessment and planning phases initiate the building of these partnerships
in the early stages of the process.
This paper is an attempt to share the experience of developing and testing a community based urban risk reduction
approach for a city at extreme earthquake risk.
Keywords : Risk Assessment, Community Planning, Mitigation, Preparedness, Partnership
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