Dr. Natasha Udu-gama serves as the Director of Community Partnerships, responsible for building community partnerships, launching projects, and advancing community science at the Thriving Earth Exchange program. She has a PhD in Environment and Geography specializing in multi-sector partnerships for effective and sustainable community-owned early warning systems from Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia. Most recently, Natasha has served as a consultant for the Northern Virginia Emergency Response System (NVERS) and Virginia Tech’s Advanced Research Institute in Arlington County, and as Project Advisor/Community Resilience Building through Early Warning Systems (CBDRR) with IFRC’s South East Asia Regional Office in Bangkok, Thailand. Natasha says her time at LIRNEasia has directly contributed towards her current academic and professional endeavors by influencing her thinking and enriching her knowledge of disaster early warning systems and climate change.
Natasha is a former Research Fellow and Project Dissemination Manager for LIRNEasia’s Last Mile Hazard Warning System (HazInfo) project. She organized three international HazInfo dissemination workshops with practitioners and experts in Bangladesh, India and Indonesia in 2007 and 2008. She also researched the use of mobile cell broadcasting for commercial information dissemination and public warning system for the Maldives, as part of LIRNEasia’s Mobile2.0 study. Her research interests include community-based disaster risk management and appropriate technologies for community-based disaster risk information systems in poor urban areas and information technologies for risk communication.
“Because of my work at LIRNEasia, particularly my involvement in the HazInfo project, I became more aware of the opportunities and challenges of partnerships, in ensuring that community early warning systems are community-owned,” says Natasha.
The HazInfo project also attempted to develop a framework for partnerships in early warning systems, in collaboration with Sri Lanka’s grassroots social movement Sarvodaya. However, while this attempt did not materialize at that time, Natasha says her exposure to early warning systems fired her interest and encouraged her to continue her studies on the subject.
“My experiences influenced my thinking about working further on developing a framework for partnerships. The contact base I developed during my work at LIRNEasia has also been helpful in working further in this areas and this is what I am now focusing on for my PhD,” says Natasha.
At the conclusion of her PhD studies Natasha hopes to continue her work on developing a framework for community partnerships for more effective disaster early warning systems in Asia.