It has been a long time since our first blog post, so it is finally time to share more details about our project topic and what we are currently doing.
Our project is called Project Mapit, it started in last January and it will be finished at the end of May or early June. The project is aiming to enhance and support sustainable development in Bhutan, with the specific focus on landslide mitigation. The specific case location is Dewathang Gewog in Samdrup Jongkhar district. The project is part of Sustainable Global Technologies (SGT) Studio course organized by Aalto University School of Engineering, and we implement the project in collaboration with a student team from Jigme Namgyel Engineering College (JNEC), Royal University of Bhutan.
Our aim of reducing the risks of landslides is closely connected to achieving some Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The most important SDGs the project contributes to are SDG 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) and SDG 13 (Climate Action), as landslides are a major natural hazard in Bhutan for example because of the country’s geographical and climatic conditions (Sarkar & Dorji, 2019), but also because of the climate change (Stockwell et al., 2019). The severity and frequency of landslides in Bhutan are also one reason why we find it important to address the hazard in our project.
We will address the topic of landslides by creating information to increase the awareness of the topic and to decrease the risks related to it. The two most important outputs that we will create are landslide susceptibility maps of the area and an information leaflet about landslides. The maps will be created in collaboration with our Bhutanese partners using geographical information system (GIS) software, and after the project our partners will also provide the result maps to the local government in Bhutan. The specific content of the information leaflet is not specified yet, but it will either focus on raising awareness of the risks of landslides or giving educational information about how to do a landslide susceptibility analysis with GIS.
Because of Covid-19, Project Mapit is implemented fully online, without a field trip to Bhutan. However, we will still work closely with our partners there. We have for example already had some meetings with the JNEC student team as well as their mentors, and the students have also provided us some data for the GIS analysis. Moreover, in the beginning of April we will also organize a two-to-three-day intensive workshop with the JNEC students to work for example on the GIS analysis.
Something important to know is also that Project Mapit is part of a cooperation project called Problem Based Learning (PBL) South Asia. PBL South Asia is a project of Erasmus+ Program of European Union and coordinated by Aalto Global Impact. Thus, the project is also co-funded by Erasmus+.
This is our project in a nutshell, but what are we currently doing, and have we done so far? We have already done some background study of the area and the topic as well as prepared a project document including for example the project implementation plan. We have also had some meetings with our Bhutanese partners and got some data for the GIS analysis from them. The next steps for us are to study more both landslides and how the GIS analysis is done, arrange some expert meetings to learn more about the project area and topic, familiarize ourselves with the provided data and actually start working with the analysis and the information leaflet.
We will keep you posted about the progress!
Sarkar, Raju & Dorji, Kelzang, 2019. Determination of the Probabilities of Landslide Events – A Case Study of Bhutan. Hydrology. Vol. 6(2):52. DOI: 10.3390/hydrology6020052. Available at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/333822109_Determination_of_the_Probabilities_of_Landslide_Events-A_Case_Study_of_Bhutan. Referred: 17.3.2021.
Stockwell, E., Simons, J. & Gex, M. 2019. Landslides in Bhutan. ArcGIS StoryMaps. Available at: https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/0f0b80491eb442e9b1828f400106d9e8. Referred: 17.3.2021.
Figure 1 modified from: User:NordNordWest, Government of Bhutan. 2011. Samdrup Jongkhar Bhutan location map. [png]. Original image available at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dewathang_Gewog#/media/File:Samdrup_Jongkhar_Bhutan_location_map.png. Accessed: 16.2.2021. CC BY-SA 3.0: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/.