The CDRI Fellowship Programme supports research focused on urban, rural or regional contexts, whether it is focused on resilience of existing infrastructure or new infrastructure. The research may focus on risks at the level of asset (e.g. construction technology for components of a power transmission network) or risks at the level of an infrastructure system (e.g. innovative ways to identify vulnerable nodes in a power grid).

Thematic Areas

Early Warning and Decision Support System for Infrastructure

Our current and future infrastructure is at risk from disasters. A key intervention to mitigate the impacts of these disasters involves the use of Early Warning Systems (EWS) and efficient Decision Support Systems (DSS). EWS has the ability to signal infrastructure vulnerability using sensors, event detection technologies, and more. Combining early warning information with DSS model helps in identifying risks and mitigating their potential effects leading to readiness plans for disasters.

These systems aim to reduce the impact of natural hazards by providing timely and relevant information in a systematic way. In addition, these systems facilitate end-to-end early warning and preparedness to foster disaster resilience of infrastructure.

Resilience Standards for Infrastructure

Standards are crucial in scaling up disaster and climate resilience in infrastructure investments and ensuring that infrastructure is prepared to withstand present and future disasters.

Considering the increasing frequency of disasters and climate change, standards need to be revised regularly as well as applied consistently with the support of training and regulations, along with an evolving understanding of physical hazards and advancements in engineering technologies. Further, the choice of standards is significant for maximum impact as it directly affects various phases of infrastructure development. Often, historical data is used to set standards; however, these may provide an unreliable guide to the future, as disaster and climate impacts worsen. Hence, to address infrastructure resilience effectively, standards must consider scenarios of disaster risks that might be experienced over an entire lifecycle of the infrastructure.

Nature-based Solutions (NbS) for Infrastructure Resilience

Nature-based Solutions (NbS) offer a cost-effective mechanism to boost infrastructure resilience while also improving livelihoods, benefiting economies and ecosystems.

Technological innovations such as constructed wetlands and mangroves tend to reduce the risk of urban and river flooding and provide coastal protection. These innovations are also paving the way for nature-inspired engineered infrastructure to boost resilience. NbS and grey infrastructure are often interpreted as contrasting approaches, although newer perspectives suggest their enhanced effectiveness, if combined, for infrastructure resilience. Therefore, NbS not only has the potential to serve as an alternative to grey infrastructure but can also be used in combination with grey infrastructure to offer predictable and reliable service delivery, especially in times of uncertainty.

Risk Finance for Infrastructure

Risk financing strategies for each nation depend on its capacity, risk appetite, resources, and willingness to manage risk. Nevertheless, appropriate financing can incentivize the resilience of infrastructure systems.

Disasters have the potential to cause serious economic and fiscal repercussions by imposing high financial costs on the government. In particular, damage to infrastructure systems tends to have catastrophic impacts on lives and livelihoods, bringing society to a standstill whilst placing a significant financial burden on government to fund post- disaster recovery and reconstruction operations. In the most vulnerable regions, infrastructure-related risks coupled with other expected climate impacts can lead to increased macroeconomic risks, and even affect sovereign credit ratings.

Health Infrastructure Resilience

Since 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has severely affected countries whilst many healthcare systems have reached the point of exhaustion. An avalanche of cases combined with aging infrastructure and under-resourced human capacity has overburdened the healthcare system in almost all countries.

Robust health infrastructure is the foundation for the successful delivery of health services. There is an urgent need for a well-articulated narrative on health infrastructure systems resilience that promotes systemic preparedness, response, and recovery capabilities for minimizing disruptions in services during disasters as well as provides a surplus for meeting surge requirements. Health infrastructure should aim to develop resilience at all levels (primary, secondary and tertiary) for efficient delivery of health services.


Types of risks

The CDRI Fellowship Programme supports research on building resilience of infrastructure to disaster risks emanating from both natural (hydro-meteorological and geophysical hazards) and man-made hazards. The proposed research may look at risks from extreme events as well as slow-onset events including those emanating from the emerging effects of climate change.

Indicative research topics

The main emphasis of the research should be to address specific real-world problems and search for implementable solutions in infrastructure sectors. Above-mentioned themes provide few indicative research topics to give an idea of the type of research the Programme may support.