ICHARM -- The International Centre for Water Hazard and Risk Management

Newsletter from the Secretariat for Preparatory Activities of

Issue No.4 March 2005

What's in this issue

In this 4th issue of our periodic newsletters we continue our focus in providing our national and international partners and colleagues with our up to date information on the progress of the preparatory works toward the establishment of the centre by autumn 2005. You will find in this issue:

1. Message from the Director of the Secretariat

2. Recent Activities and Future Schedule

        i) JICA Region-focused Training Course Flood Hazard Mapping
        ii) World Conference on Disaster Reduction, Hyogo, Kobe
        iii) Preparatory Meeting on International Flood Initiative/Program(IFI/P)

3. Recent Topics and Research Activities

       i) Visits of Professor Yicheng Wang, IWHR, China.

       ii) World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP)

4. Contact Information


Message from the Director

Last January, the United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) was held in Kobe, Japan.  There were a total of more than 4,000 participants from 168 governmental organizations, relevant international organizations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).  In December 2004, only about a month before the conference, the Sumatra Earthquake and consequent Indian Ocean Tsunami disasters caused serious damages.  It was broadcasted worldwide and engraved in the memory of people throughout the globe.  Naturally, the significance of international solidarity to overcome natural disasters was emphasized in this conference. 

On the last day of the conference (January 22), "The Hyogo Declaration" and "The Hyogo Framework for Action" were concluded as the final achievement of the conference. It was clearly stated in those official announcements that disaster prevention and reduction should be strategically addressed in cooperation with countries throughout the world.  Sharing the common understanding that each country is primarily responsible for sustainable development, and the lives and properties of their own people, the participating countries agreed on five specific actions that should be given priority over the next ten years (2005-2015).  Each country should: 1) Ensure that disaster risk reduction is a national and local priority with a strong institutional basis for implementation; 2) Identify, assess and monitor disaster risks and enhance early warning; 3) Use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels; 4) Reduce the underlying risk factors; 5) Strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response. ICHARM especially focuses on the second and third among the five priority actions, and will make concrete contributions to "building disaster-resistant communities and countries" from a global perspective.

A new training course on "Flood Hazard Mapping" was held in January in cooperation with JICA.  There were a total of 16 participants from eight countries in East and Southeast Asia. Apparently, it was no easy task for the participants to conduct field work under the cold winter weather in Japan.  However, it was undoubtedly good to see the participants' sparkling faces satisfied with what they have accomplished in this four-week course at the closing ceremony. Activities like this course contribute to building a cross boundary network of people around the world, which surely is an indispensable asset and is a strong driving force for ICHARM's future activities.

Director of the Secretariat



Recent Activities and Future Schedule - Part 1-

JICA Rergion-focused Training Course on "Flood Hazrd Mapping"

PWRI organized the Region-Focused Training Course "Flood Hazard Mapping" from January 31 to February 18, 2005 in cooperation with Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). This training course is planned over a period of 5 years with the aim to transfer professional knowledge necessary to produce flood hazard maps as well as to enhance understanding on their effectiveness. This first year course was designed for technical managers or engineers engaged in river or flood management in the public sectors in East and Southeast Asia. The training course invited 16 participants from 8 Asian countries, namely Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, the Philippines, Lao PDR, China and Vietnam. 

This training course was designed to include various lectures in relation to the science and technology of flood hazard mapping. The lectures included those on the objective and procedures of producing flood hazard maps and the advanced research topics in this field. As for the invited lecturers and professional researchers they were not only from Japanese research organizations but also from other international organization such as the Mekong River Commission and China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (IWHR). The program included practical application exercises sessions, which engaged the participants in a real case study a Town Watching (On-site inspection) guided by Prof. Ogawa (Fuji-Tokoha University). The "Town Watching" was conducted in the middle reach of the Tonegawa River which has been historically most flood-affected such as due to Typhoon Kathleen in 1947. On the assumption that actual flood disasters are about to occur, all the participants conducted the field survey and tried to identify critical points and barriers for smooth and safe evacuation. They also made interviews to the local people/community on their awareness of flood disasters. This activity was followed by two complementary field trips on "flood hazard mapping": the first to the Fukushima Office of River and National Highway , Koriyama City Office, and the second to the Kanto Regional Development Bureau, Arakawa River Downstream Work Office. 

This training course was wrapped up with a great success on February 18, and PWRI is very much willing to create networking and to keep good relationships with all the participants in exchanging information hereinafter.

At this opportunity we would like to extend our thanks and gratitude to all the lecturers for this training course as well as to those concerned in conducting the field survey and the field trip.


Opening with CEO Dr. Sakamoto and Director Terakawa


Lecture on flood hazard mapping

Trainees in Field Survey


MRC, JICA and PWRI Staff helping trainees conduct citizen interview.

Recent Activities and Future Schedule - Part 2 -

Conferences Attended

The United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) , Hyogo, Kobe

The United Nations World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) was held from Tuesday, January 18 through Saturday, January 22 at the International Conference Center Kobe and its adjoining hotel, Kobe Portopia Hotel. There were three different types of meetings, and more than ten meetings were held simultaneously at the conference center and hotel.  In some meetings, governmental officials of the participating countries got together and worked on consensus documents for every member country to agree upon.  Other meetings were dedicated to discuss specific themes and provided additional opinions and information to support the results of the meetings among governmental officials.  There were still other meetings, so-called "public forums", where not only experts but also the general public could participate to voice their opinions. The Public Works Research Institute (PWRI) co-hosted a theme-specific session entitled "Research on Floods and Landslides and A New International Initiative for Risk Reduction" (January 19) with UNESCO and WMO. At the beginning of the session, chaired by Prof. Ginkel, President of United Nations University, Dr. Sakamoto, Chief Executive of PWRI, explained the preparatory activities for ICHARM (International Center for Water Hazard and Risk Management under the auspices of UNESCO) as part of his opening words, accompanied by Dr. Matsuura, Secretary-General of UNESCO, Dr. Jeraud, Secretary-General of WMO and Prof. Inoue, Director of the Disaster Prevention Research Institute, Kyoto University. In the first half of the session, Mr. Terakawa, Director of the Secretariat, introduced the discussion topic by making a presentation entitled "Comprehensive Flood Risk Management and the Role of ICHARM". The official launch of the International Flood Initiative (IFI) was also declared in this session with consensus among related organizations. IFI is an international initiative of inter-organ efforts at the global level that expected to contribute to flood disaster prevention and reduction. ICHARM is expected to be a global facility contributing to the Initiative. Senior Researcher Yoshitani of the Secretariat for Preparatory Activities of ICHARM is nominated as a member of the IFI task force that is responsible for preparing a draft action plan of the Initiative. 

The River Bureau of the Ministry of Land Infrastructure and Transport (MLIT) co-hosted (on January 20) a theme-specific session entitled "Knowledge Sharing and Comprehensive Flood Risk Management through Educational Training" with WMO and the Australian Bureau of Meteorology (BOM).  Mr. Terakawa co-chaired the session with Mr. Bruce Stewart, Deputy-Director of BOM.  After seven presentations and the discussion following, the session suggested in its proposal that ICHARM should play a key role in research and capacity building in order to transfer technologies for flood disaster reduction to developing countries. 

On the last day of the conference (January 22), based on the results of each meeting held up to the day before, "The Hyogo Declaration" and "Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015" were concluded as the final achievement of the conference.  It was clearly stated in those official announcements that disaster prevention and reduction should be strategically addressed in cooperation with countries throughout the world.

Future Conferences

Preparatory Meeting on International Flood Initiative (IFI/P)

The task force members of the IFI programme will meet in Switzerland, Geneva, on March 20-23, 2004. The objective of this fourth meeting is to discuss the details of the action plan after the official launch of the initiative at the Kobe World Disaster Conference. The outcome of this meeting will be communicated in our coming issue.

For the complete list of our ongoing and future activities please visit our home page http://www.unesco.pwri.go.jp

Recent Topics and Research Activities

Recent Topics

  Visit of Professor Yicheng Wang, IWHR, China

Professor Y. Wang, Professor at the Department of Flood Hazard Research, China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (IWHR), visited our secretariat to conduct a joint research activity from January 18 to February 25. Prof. Wang is a member of the CREST research project "Sustainable water policy scenarios for river basins with rapidly increasing population" funded by the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST). During his stay, he wrote a paper about the history of the flood control system in the Changjiang River in collaboration with Mr. Junichi Yoshitani and Dr. Takeo Onishi of our secretariat. He also served as an invited commentator at the International Forum on Water Front and Watershed Restoration held on January 19, 2005 in Tokyo. Prof. Wang also contributed to the JICA region-focused training course on Flood Hazard Mapping as mentioned earlier in this newsletter. Lastly, he gave a lecture at the Symposium on "Water Management Policy in Chao Phraya River Basin, Thailand and Yangtze River Basin, China", held on February 24, 2005 in Tokyo, organized by the JST/CREST funded project. Prof. Wang had contributed a lot to our activities. It is our prospect and hopes to increase such kind of collaborative research and educational activities.

Research Activities

  World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP)

As introduced in our 3rd issue of this newsletter the Public Works Research Institute (PWRI) in collaboration with WMO, UN-ISDR and UN organizations is contributing to the 2nd edition of the 2nd edition of the World Water Development Report (WWDR) managed by the Secretariat of the World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP) at UNESCO, Paris. Our contribution was materialized by the development of a risk indicator to assess policy effectiveness in flood mitigation. The indicator allows to perform an analysis between the driving forces and pressures increasing flood threat with an end aim to define coorective policies (i.e., budget allocation) to mitigate flood vulnerability. The application of the indicator to Japan case study has received a large interest among UN experts and its global application was strongly advised by the WWAP Secretariat. Read more about our proposed risk indicator. 

We would like to use this opportunity to call for your scientific cooperation in this global application. For details please contact Mr. Junichi Yoshitani or Dr. Tarek Merabtene at our secretariat.


This newsletter is distributed via e-mail. It can also be downloaded from our website. Those of you who wish to subscribe or unsubscribe to our mailing list, please contact us by e-mail. We welcome any comments or requests from you to help us make this newsletter more effective and informative.

Issued by: Secretariat for Preparatory Activities of UNESCO-PWRI Centre,

Public Works Research Institute (PWRI)
1-6 Minamihara Tsukuba Ibaraki  305-8516, Japan
Tel : +81-29-879-6809 Fax : +81-29-879-6709

Copyright (c) 2008 Public Works Research Institute