Community Monitoring & Preparedness for Natural Disasters Initiative




The recent rise in the severity and frequency of natural disasters is of serious concern to the global community. These disasters significantly impact global development. Annual economic losses by these disasters have increased worldwide from US$75.5 billion in the 1960s to US$659.9 billion in the 1990s. Today 85% of the people exposed to natural hazards and disasters including earthquakes, tropical cyclones, floods and droughts live in developing countries.


To reduce loss of life and economic impact, the United Nations strives to raise global awareness on natural disasters and on the possible approaches communities can take to reduce the impact of such disasters. Noting the emergence of many techniques and methodologies for early warning and community preparation for disasters, as well as the rapid advances in information-sharing technology, the United Nations seeks to facilitate timely exchange of disaster-related information, data and experiences to all interested Member States.


To this end, the UNDP launched an initiative on Community Monitoring & Preparedness for Natural Disasters, COMPREND, partly based on the successes of the Global Programme on Integration of Public Administration and the Science of Disasters (UNGP-IPASD), which ended in 2003. Established in September 2004, this new global initiative promotes activities that catalyze environmental monitoring and preparedness efforts at the local community level for earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and severe weather disasters. Founded on south-south cooperation, i.e., collaboration between developing countries, COMPREND is a global program that encourages the sharing of community disaster experiences and advances in forecasting technologies. It recognizes that early warning for natural disasters at the community level depends upon parallel activities that strengthen public awareness of the environment and its changes, local forecasting capabilities and social organization to gather and disseminate relevant information effectively. In 2007, COMPREND continues its efforts on the grass-root level, focusing on Asian communities such as those in the Philippines, China, and India.


COMPREND is designed at the global level to share interregional knowledge through face–to–face meetings, international conferences/demonstrations, exchange visits, workshops, publications and a website. It facilitates collaborative research using advances in software and data from established global monitoring networks. At the national and local levels, COMPREND projects include monitoring changes in the natural environment, raising public awareness through education and action-learning, and strengthening local information and communication networks to link communities with scientists and public administrators in disaster reduction. Protocols that are specific to each locality, country and type of disaster will be integrated to share information, vulnerability, risk and preparedness strategies.


Below are examples of the types of projects and outcomes that COMPREND facilitates. These documented results are the accomplishments of the United Nations Global Programme for the Integration of Public Administration and the Science of Disasters, UNGP-IPASD, which preceded COMPREND and completed in 2003.


In the Philippines and in China, municipalities have built socio-technical networks in their communities, with a high degree of people participation. For the Philippines, community volunteers from ten municipalities covering one-third of the country are actively monitoring ahead for earthquakes through CSCAN, the Crustal Stress Community Awareness Network.


CSCAN-Philippines, as a community-based system, achieved remarkable results in seeing ahead for six medium-sized earthquakes that occurred between January 2002 and April 2003. These results are documented in two UNDP - Philippines articles published in 2003 (#1, and #2):

In China, local communities share their information at all levels and integrate disaster mitigation activities into regular work programs. During the summer months of 1998 and 2003, UNDP-China directly facilitated the building of a nine-station CSCAN monitoring system in the seismically active region of China’s northwest Xinjiang Autonomous Region.


The community-based earthquake monitoring networks in China and the Philippines developed from a partnership of the UNDP and the UNGP-IPASD. From 1998 –1999, another notable example of partnership occurred with the UNDP, UNGP-IPASD and UNOCHA (UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) joining together to mitigate and document a “once-in-a-hundred-year” catastrophic flood event in southern China during the summer of 1998. Details of this event are provided by the following UNDP report.



            The attached table shows what COMPREND activities can offer local communities in terms of expanded possibilities for community-based disaster monitoring, education and preparedness.


COMPREND is bold in its focus on producing timely results at the country and local levels. Multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral in scope, this global program utilises innovations in the social and physical sciences to engage local communities in disaster awareness and action. Support by partners from the public-private sectors and all walks of life are welcomed.


For further information on COMPREND, please contact:


            Jean J. Chu

Programme Co-Founder


Tel. +1-718-791-9763 (when in the USA)

+86-136-9306-7556 (when in China)

+63-919-836-5037 (when in the Philippines)


Douglas Ling

Senior Technical Advisor

Tel. +1.781.235.8803