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Gates Foundation gives $3.5 million to Tulane disaster resilience program

The Disaster Resilience Leadership Academy (DRLA) at the Tulane School of Social Work has been awarded a $3.5 million grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to implement the second phase of its Disaster Resilience Leadership (DRL) program over the next three years.

Established in 2009, the DRLA trains current and future leaders in disaster resilience and humanitarian assistance in vulnerable communities across Africa, South and Southeast Asia and the Caribbean. The grant will enable the academy to expand its reach to India and Central America.

“Central America suffers from recurring flash floods, landslides, tropical storms, forest fires and earthquakes, and is the world’s second-most vulnerable region (behind Southeast Asia) to climate change,” said DRLA executive director Ky Luu. “And India is highly prone to a wide array of natural, climate-induced and man-made disasters.”

Luu said the grant validates the DRLA’s global mission “to promote resilient outcomes in the most vulnerable communities by strengthening local leadership capacity.” That mission is achieved, in part, through executive short courses, professional development and graduate and certificate programs, along with online tools and knowledge sharing.

DRLA faculty are in the process of identifying partners in India and Central America. Later this month, a contingent of high-level Indian government officials and academics will travel to New Orleans to see the DRLA program in action and meet with local disaster risk management stakeholders. The trip includes meetings with the U.S. State Department, USAID, FEMA, and the Department of Defense in Washington, D.C.

Having served as a DRL fellow and partner, Mohamed Osman of Mogadishu, Somalia said the program fosters a culture of dialogue, a core building block for long-term peace and stability.

“It proves that building disaster capacity of vulnerable communities and thus saving lives depends on the capacity of our leadership, its innovative thinking and commitment to proven leadership skills and competencies.”