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AIT students share Japan experience on learning from disasters

Five students from the Asian Institute of Technology (AIT) shared their experience about learning from disasters following their exchange program in Japan. The students highlighted the impacts of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami, along with their experience on coastal disaster management in a series of presentation delivered recently (30 August 2013) at AIT’s Milton E. Bender Jr. Auditorium.

Mr. Saswata Sanyal and Mr. Shah Jawad Shamir, stated that the Tsunami of 2011 is regarded as a Level II disaster which occurs only once in a thousand years. Narrating a story from the city of Kesennuma, they stated that the city was debating on whether to preserve symbols of the disaster or to wipe out bad memories. The case of a ship that moved one kilometer inside the coastline, and which is still lying in the city has led to divided opinions. They also discussed the debate about creating breakwaters and their utility in warding off disasters.

While Sanyal is a doctoral student at the Disaster Preparedness, Mitigation and Management (DPMM) field of study, Shamir is a Master’s student. Both went to Japan under the Intensive Programme on Sustainability (IPoS) Program 2013.

Ms. Pone Nyet Khaing, another DPMM student shared her story about re-experiencing the earthquake in a specially created facility. This facility allows visitors to experience an earthquake, following which they are guided to replicas of the destruction caused by the earthquake. Another section of this facility is dedicated to protection and reduction of losses after the disaster. Besides showing a movie on the disaster, the facility also provides a guidance room and a trauma center facilities if the visitors find the experience too shocking, she added.

Md. Shahab Uddin, a doctoral student of DPMM highlighted the plans for a tsunami-resilient city. He also spoke of the efficacy of breakwaters in tackling diasters. Mr. Wifandy Purba,

Master’s student elaborated on the extent of challenges following the disaster. A total of 10 million tonnes of tsunami deposit and a damage to one million buildings is a consequence of the disaster. Looking at environmental issues from a geotechnical perspective, he added that a three-year target has been set for treating tsunami-related waste. Ms. Khaing, Mr. Shahab Uddin and Mr. Purba went to Japan under the Disaster Resilient Countries (DRC) Program.

Issues brought to the fore by the five students included depopulation of areas, accelerated migration to cities, disagreement among community, consensus-building problems, internal debt of the government, suicides, mass land subsistence, and destruction of livelihoods. Earlier, welcoming the students, Dr. Pennung Warnitchai of AIT’s School of Engineering and Technology (SET) said that next year, AIT plans to send more students under the two exchange programs. Prof. Jayant Kumar Routray of AIT’s School of Environment, Resources and Development (SERD), and Ms. Vineeta Thapa, Senior Program Officer, also attended the seminar.

About Disaster Resilient Countries (DRC) Program: DRC is a consortium of International Human Resource Development for Construction of Disaster Resilient Countries. It is an initiative of Kyoto University and ASEAN Alliance Universities that includes the Asian Institute of Technology, Chulalongkorn University, Kasetsart University, Institut Teknologi Bandung, University of Malaya, and Vietnam National University. This is a University Project by Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports Science and Technology (MEXT) of Japan on Disaster Risk Mitigation, Recovery and Reconstruction for Re-Inventing Japan. More details are available at this link:

About Intensive Programme on Sustainability (IPoS) Program: IPoS is aimed at cultivating and leveraging innovative ideas towards sustainability with the emphasis on the relationship between Asia and the global society. The University of Tokyo (UT), Japan along with Asian Institute of Technology (AIT), Thailand, launched this program in 2004, with support from the Alliance for Global Sustainability (AGS), and with the inspiration from Youth Encounter on Sustainability (Y.E.S.) of ETHZ. The Integrated Research System for Sustainability Science (IR3S) joined IPoS since 2006, and this brought faculty members and students from Hokkaido University, Ibaraki University, Kyoto University and Osaka

University. In addition to AGS and IR3S, Nissan Science Foundation (NSF) has sponsored IPoS since 2006. More details are available at this link:

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This year in Thailand-what next?

AseanAffairs   04 January 2011
By David Swartzentruber      

It is commonplace in journalism to write two types of articles at the transition point between the year that has passed and the New Year. As this writer qualifies as an “old hand” in observing Thailand with a track record dating back 14 years, it is time take a shot at what may unfold in Thailand in 2011.

The first issue that can’t be answered is the health of Thailand’s beloved King Bhumibol, who is now 83 years old. He is the world's longest reigning monarch, but elaborate birthday celebrations in December failed to mask concern over his health. More






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