Summer University on Disaster Risk Management in Khorog, Tajikistan - Call for Applications

Date: 23 March 2017
The University of Central Asia's (UCA) Graduate School of Development Mountain Societies Research Institute (MSRI) is pleased to announce a summer university to be held in Khorog, Tajikistan from 7 to 18 August 2017. The deadline to apply is 15 April 2017

The Summer University is hosted by the University of Central Asia and is organised jointly with the Aga Khan Agency for Habitat (AKAH) as well as the University of Bern’s Department of Geography, Switzerland.

Natural hazards menace human life, livelihoods and assets all over the Pamir, Hindu Kush, Tien Shan and Karakoram Mountains. The risks they pose to settlements and infrastructure is not new. However, intensified land use, greater social complexities and higher concentrations of wealth constitute new challenges for Disaster Risk Reduction/Management (DRR/DRM) specialists, emergency managers or land-use planners.  Both the immediate as well as the longer-term effects of climate change only further exacerbate such challenges. 

Mainstreaming the risk of disasters or natural hazards in development planning, promoting preparedness as well as capacities to respond to hazards (risk management) and designing protective measures (risk reduction) all require a clear and multi-faceted understanding of natural hazards, social and economic vulnerabilities, and the range of views that are held by different stakeholders in Central Asian mountain societies about risks and their socio-economic impacts, and about risk reduction.

This first edition of the Summer University on Disaster Risk Management takes place embedded in a development project fostering self-sustained and resilient communities (Creating Opportunities in a Safe Environment – COSE), funded by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC).

What is the Summer University about?

Locally-based but internationally supported research, tertiary education and training about the thorough understanding and assessment of hazard and risks and of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is of utmost importance in this mountainous part of the world. Applied research of local conditions and developments, university and practical education as well as in-depth training of a broader community within mountain risk management will stimulate future mitigation concepts facing the challenges of climate and socioeconomic changes.

The 2015 debris flow events in Barsem (outside of Khorog) will serve as excellent training ground for this first edition of the summer university. Issues of magnitude and probability of hazards and risks, of effects of climate change and of peoples understanding and interpretation of mountain hazards will constitute a focus of this Summer University.

Learning Objectives

Participants from universities as well as from government and non-government agencies will work on the assessment and management of risks from mountain hazards. Combining regional practitioner’s experience and international knowledge, the workshop will offer both scientific and practical skills in disaster risk reduction.

After the Summer University, participants:
  • will understand the fundamental frameworks and concepts of DRR and resilience building (hazard, risk, vulnerability, resilience).
  • can identify and analyse flood, flash flood, debris flow and other prevailing hazards in a high-mountain environment (magnitude and probability considerations), assess causes for the initiation of these processes (particularly in light of climate change) and analyse multi-hazard conditions.
  • know how to analyse risks in a semi-quantitative and quantitative manner
  • are aware of and can consider people’s perception of risks and their willingness to invest in increased resilience
  • can develop risk reduction concepts based on changing natural and socio-economic conditions
  • are familiar with community and ecosystem-centered DRR approaches and are aware of the potential and limitations of Climate Chance Adaptation (CCA) strategies for DRR (e.g. Ecosystem-based Adaptation)
Lectures and class-room exercises will be complemented with sufficient field exposure and practical work. Khorog and its surroundings offer abundant opportunities to study issues related to hazards and risks.

Who should Apply?

This Summer University is open to interested participants from academia, relevant government agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGO) and the private sector. We invite particularly students with a background in Environmental Sciences from the University of Central Asia, Khorog State University, University of Bern, University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna.

Other requirements:
  • University degrees in a relevant field of science for professionals/practitioners from government agencies, NGOs and private sector participants.
  • Professionals are required to prove professional and/or academic focus on disaster risk reduction (DRR) or related issues.

Working language will be English, and only very limited translation capacity will be available.

How to Apply?

The following documents need to be prepared and submitted online not later than 15 April 2017. Please prepare the required documents (2-4) before filling the application form:

  1. Completed application form
  2. Curriculum Vitae (CV), including relevant certificates if any
  3. Motivation letter* (1-2 pages)
  4. Detailed budget, in case financial support is requested (optional)

Motivation Letter*

Please describe your interest and relevant (disaster risk reduction) professional experience and qualifications, detailing how the course will be relevant to your work, and in what way your institution is expecting to benefit from the summer university. Please list relevant professional activities, the tasks you are responsible for, and how the programme will help you to run them.


Costs to be covered by the participants:
  • Tuition fee: US$300
  • Travel costs to and from Khorog
  • Food and beverages during the Summer University

Financial support (including up to 50% travel cost) is available upon request and requires the submission of a detailed budget.

Costs covered by the hosts:
  • Accommodation
  • Local travel during Summer University
  • Costs for documentation


For further information please visit
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