Expert of the Week   for  04 - 10 Apr 2016

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Nicolas Bernon

Risk analysis and database expert

Cooperazione Internazionale (COOPI) Expertise:  DRR, hazard assessment, hazard mapping, vulnerability analysis, DRR policies for planning authorities, GIS, geology.

Nicolas Bernon is a Geologist Engineer (MSc) specialized in disaster risk reduction by working on projects of assessment and mapping of natural hazards (landslide, flood, tsunami, cyclone, earthquake, erosion, etc). He has worked mainly in scientific institutions and public administrations (DRM, planning authority) where he was responsible to improve knowledge of the exposition to natural hazards of the territories and to implement disaster risk prevention policies. Nicolas Bernon is actually working with COOPI, an Italian NGO recognized in Haiti for its DRR and protection programs. He is building a database in cooperation with the National Geo-Spatial Information Center about the resources and vulnerabilities for crisis management and the preventive management of the territory of Port-au-Prince.

Mapping of resources and vulnerabilities for crisis management and preventive management of the territory

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QQuestion by Ms Fanny Langella

Dear Nicolas,

Could you give some examples of how the mapping projects you worked on have informed policy making decisions in Haiti?

Ms Fanny Langella PreventionWeb Managing Editor | UNISDR

APosted on 09 Apr 2016

Dear Fanny,

Thanks for your question. With the cartographic webservers and the data collected during the projects, the authorities can generate some maps easily. These tools have been used for the realization of contingency plans and communal development plans.

In Tabarre, the technical unit of the municipality, supported by a UN-HABITAT project, is working with the cartographic webserver to create the district development plan ( Besides, at the district level and at a lower level too (district sections), the services of Civil Protection are using the cartographic webserver to write the contingency plans.

In Cerca-Carjaval and Cerca-la-Source, these documents have been prepared as well and are now ready for the municipality validation. They are downloadable through the cartographic server website :

The informations produced by the projects also helped the authorities in some decisions. For example, the municipality of Tabarre decided to acquire a fire station and the Ministry of Public Works used the cartographies of the project to plan interventions of rehabilitation of sewerage channels.

This is examples of how the mapping of resources and vulnerabilities of the territories have been used by the public authorities. We know as well that the data are downloaded by students and researchers.

QQuestion by Ms Lizz Harrison

Hi Nicolas,
At Y Care International we work with local partner organisations (primarily YMCAs) to train local young people to lead participatory hazard, vulnerability and capacity assessments and mapping in their own communities. In your experience, do the results of mapping of resources and vulnerabilities differ significantly depending on who is involved in the process?
Thanks, Lizz

Ms Lizz Harrison Disaster Risk Reduction and Emergencies Advisor | Y Care International
United Kingdom

APosted on 09 Apr 2016

Hi Lizz,

The participatory maps are useful. They allow the communities to analyze their environment and to report their own vision of it. I’ve never had the opportunity to conduct projects of participatory mapping, but I can see that the aim and the results are different.


Our methodology maps the physical objects, and the roles it could have for crisis management. For example, a church will be associated with its capacity to help the community in case of emergency. In details, the capacities to host refugees, to cook and serve food, the autonomy in energy, the civil engineering tools available, the communication services available, the description of the access to the church, the presence of a school… is related to the point on the map. This crisis management focus is provided for all the resources (the water supply, the energy supply, the medical services available, the means in civil engineering, the local organizations, the institutions, the soil…). A very detailed description of all the resources is provided with their locations in the database.


Moreover, the target audience is different. Participatory maps are generally realized by the communities at the local level, in order to raise awareness. Our methodology produces maps and a tool for decision support intended to the stakeholders responsible of civil protection. This implies a different approach of the cartography of resources and vulnerabilities, realized at least at the communal scale. Besides, the database contains informations that allows to conduct several vulnerability analysis.


To answer your question exactly, I'd say that the results are different. But both methods are necessary and useful.

All the best,


QQuestion by Ms DUSAN ZUPKA

Dear Nicolas,

Could you please recommend some simple formulas for a quantitative hazard and risk assessment, which you usually apply?

Many thanks and best regards,

Researcher and Lecturer in DRM
University of Geneva/University of Copenhagen

Ms DUSAN ZUPKA Researcher and Lecturer | University Geneva/International Graduate Institute

APosted on 08 Apr 2016

Dear Dusan,

In a simplified way, the risk is a combination of a hazard and of thevulnerability of exposed stakes. For an ideal quantitative risk assessment, wethus need a quantitative assessment of these two factors.

Quantitative estimation of hazards: numerical modelling is commonly used today for many hazards (hydrodynamic models, trajectography models, marine submersion models ...). These models simulate the natural phenomena by integrating their spatial, their temporal and their energetics dimensions.

Quantitative estimation of vulnerabilities: it can be characterized by several criteria,depending on the stake(s) and the hazards we are considering.  Vulnerability indicators are multiple and can be socio-economic, environmental, demographic, institutional, cultural,technical, political etc. These criteria allow to appreciate the damages and losses, strengths and resilience of a system or society when a natural hazard occurs. Quantitative assessment of vulnerabilities remains difficult and is often not comprehensive. A global vulnerability index is generally used to express the combination of several criteria vulnerabilities.

In the context of the approach employed in our projects of mapping the resources and vulnerabilities for crisis management and preventive management of the territory, we focus on the vulnerability of the population. It is characterized in terms of exposure to natural hazards, by socio-economic and accessibility criteria. I invite you to visit the cartographic webserver where you can find more details and have a practical experience.

By hoping I brought some ideas and answers, sincerely yours,