The International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management (ICHARM) is under the auspices of UNESCO. Led by Prof. Toshio Koike, ICHARM conducts research and teaches courses on a broad field related to water disaster management. Thinking beyond floods, mudflows or landslides, ICHARM also focuses on water related disasters, also also natural events like tsunamis that could have devasting effects on the livelihoods of people affected by such events.
Due to Japan’s geographical location and experience with natural disasters, Japan seems to be in one of the best positions to lead the issues of disaster management and also sharing such knowledge to the regions and the world at large.
Work of ICHARM
One of the striking features of ICHARM is there appears to be much emphasis on project implementations that are tailored to local communities and local needs. Having previously worked with local communities in Kuching, I appreciate how time consuming and challenging it could be at times. Much good will needs to be developed to engage in whole sale changes and adaptions, particularly if there is new introduction of methodology or technologies as well.
Some recent examples include field surveys of the July 2018 torrential rain disaster in western Japan, and in September 5, 2018, ICHARM has supported the International Flood Initiative (IFI) and established the ‘Platform on Water Resilience and Disasters in Myanmar.’
Other research include developing information sharing system to deliver river water-level forecasts for small and mid-sized rivers as a PRISM Program project. This program was also launched in 2018 by the Cabinet Office of Japan and aims to develop a system that can perform trend analysis using river water- level data or crisis management by observatories and deliver water level forecasts for small and medium size rivers managed by local governments. The aim is to connect and inform these local governments in good timing.
ICHARM, alongside the organisation GRIPS offers an education program for Masters and PhD students on Disaster Management. In September 2018, fourteen students earned Masters degree and two doctoral students were given degrees in Disaster Management. In October 2018, they had eight new masters students and three more PhD students.
ICHARM is very proactive in its international reach. Examples include:
UNESCO Pakistan Project: International training on river discharge and sediment assessment in Indonesia;
Symposium of UNESCO Chair on Water, Energy and Disaster Management for Sustainable Developmetn (WENDI) at Kyoto University;
source: Prof. Koike at Kyoto symposium ICHARM
One of the interesting aspects of ICHARM is that they are a focused and highly engaging organisation. When I looked at the kind of projects they have been working on and the many countries which they have placed posters up on, I realised their work is probably less well known locally than internationally. Under Prof. Koike’s leadership I think that the local and international students would benefit greatly from the theoretical and practical application of resolving disaster management issues within their own countries.
One of the questions I was interested in posing was whether these students would be interested to develop their ideas and also interested in entrepreneurship.
In many ways such a question is a large jump, and I sensed that ICHARM is very serious in their resolving of live natural disaster issues in the world. The question of whether such students or scientists would choose to develop and take their knowledge of their research or technology to the next level of commercialising is a matter for another day.
If you would like more information on ICHARM’s work, check out their website: http://www.icharm.pwri.go.jp/
Written by Helen Tung
Emergent Tech Advisor/MINERVA Fellow
EU- Japan Centre, Tokyo
#NewSpace2060 @EUJapan Centre