Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihoods Programme (DiMP), University of Cape Town, South Africa

July 2005

ProVention News includes a profile of different partners of the Consortium. This edition focuses on the Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihoods Programme (DiMP), an academic institution based in Cape Town, South Africa and collaborating partner of ProVention in the Applied Grants Programme, the Community Risk Assessment Project and African Urban Risk Network (AURAN).

When was DiMP established?

The Disaster Mitigation for Sustainable Livelihoods Programme (DiMP)’s establishment is in-part a reflection of rapidly accelerating patterns of disaster risk and loss across southern Africa during the past 10-15 years, which calls for skilled human resource competencies that can address disaster risk in an interdisciplinary way. Launched in 1996, DiMP now employs a full-time staff of seven.

What is DiMP’s mission?

Since its inception, DiMP has given explicit priority to promoting efforts that reduce disaster risk as an integral aspect of sustainable development. DiMP has consistently applied this mission to its applied research agenda, its training and education efforts, as well as its commitment to disaster risk policy development.

DiMP’s location in UCT’s Department of Environmental and Geographical Science has provided both intellectual as well as organisational benefits. The department’s wide-ranging involvement in both physical and human geography, climate science and environmental science has created an important platform for applied disaster risk research and graduate education. Moreover, due to severely constrained funding for new academic initiatives such as Disaster Risk Science, it has been possible to ‘add value’ to existing institutional capacities to accommodate DiMP’s research and teaching needs.

Promoting disaster risk science through applied research

DiMP carries out world-class disaster risk research, with findings profiled internationally. This has included:

  • Vulnerability assessment in disaster-prone communities;
  • Multisectoral post disaster research, including economic and social impact assessment;
  • Urban disaster risk tracking and mapping, especially in informal settlements;
  • Risk assessment for and programme evaluation of disaster mitigation initiatives.

DiMP has developed the first integrated disaster incident tracking system in southern Africa (MANDISA). This allows small, medium and large scale events to be captured and consolidated in a georeferenced database. This is internet-accessible, and allows data on the 22,000 small, medium and large disaster incidents that have occurred in the Cape Metro from 1990-2004 to be accessed electronically.

Informing disaster reduction policy through advocacy and publications

DiMP has supported national and international efforts in improving disaster risk reduction policy since 1997. In South Africa, DiMP technically supported the Green and White Papers on Disaster Management, the Disaster Management Act and the development of South Africa’s National Disaster Management Framework. Moreover, DiMP continues to maintain close collaborative links with related organisations in southern Africa and internationally.

Among DiMP’s publications are:

  • ‘Living With Drought: drought mitigation for sustainable livelihoods’ (1999)
  • ‘Risk, Sustainable Development and Disasters: southern perspectives’ (1999)
  • ‘Learning About Livelihoods: insights from southern Africa’ (2003)
  • ‘Urban Vulnerability: perspectives from southern Africa’ (2002)

For further information on the DiMP’s activities, see www.egs.uct.ac.za/dimp.