Yoder-Bontrager, who previously worked with a nongovernmental organization conducting administrative assessments in disaster areas, is now researching similar aspects of the situation in Nepal, focusing on multi-organizational coordination.
“Nepal will give me a chance to see relief efforts in a different context,” he said. “I’ll be looking at coordination in general and how governmental and nongovernmental organizations work together, how they make decisions and how working side by side affects their decisions.”
For DRC postgraduate researcher Sarah DeYoung, her interest is on the broad impact of the earthquake on communities and also on its impact on infant care, particularly infant feeding. Infant formula is often donated to disaster areas, she said, and the allocation of formula can affect decisions such as whether babies are fed breast milk and whether wet nurses are used.
Faculty member Rachel Davidson is in Nepal to examine some of the impacts of the earthquakes on infrastructure. A professor of civil and environmental engineering at UD and a core faculty member with the DRC, she is working with a separate team from the Earthquake Engineering Research Institute, a national, nonprofit technical society based in California.
“Our group as a whole is much more engineering-focused, looking at buildings — especially those where there was a fair amount of retrofitting done earlier, to assess how that worked,” said Davidson, who called the interdisciplinary nature of the DRC “one of its biggest strengths.”
In Nepal, she is looking not just as buildings but also at how the disaster affected such key services as water and power supplies and waste disposal capability.
When the team returns to UD, members will write reports and make presentations to interested agencies and scholars, although the DRC’s mission is to develop scientific knowledge and information that can be applied to planning and policy making, not to advise agencies directly.
Follow-up visits to Nepal might occur if a particular area of research would benefit from additional in-person data collection, said Tricia Wachtendorf, associate professor of sociology and of women and gender studies and associate DRC director.
UDaily Article by Ann Manser