Science for Humanitarian Emergencies & Resilience (SHEAR)

Repairing a road after a landslide

Science for Humanitarian Emergencies & Resilience (SHEAR) is a new international research programme jointly funded by the UK's Department for International Development, NERC and the Economic & Social Research Council. The overall SHEAR programme focuses on four areas: disaster risk assessment (mapping and analyses), sub-seasonal to seasonal forecasting, disaster risk monitoring, and the integration of these into practical decision making. The programme is targeting lower to middle income countries across sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia, focusing on the co-production of knowledge using a multi-disciplinary and problem-centred approach.

NERC research will specifically address:

  • Hydrological controls on landslide risk as part of multi-hazard risk assessment.
  • Real time monitoring of risk, for example satellites and big data.
  • Applications of weather and climate forecasting.

This overall aim will be to improve the characterisation of the hydrological controls on natural hazards thereby enabling better prediction of their occurrence and scale, with a focus on landslide risk.

SHEAR Announcement of Opportunity: Catalyst grants (outline bids)

Closing date: 21 Nov

13 Sep 2017

Outline proposals are invited for a new funding opportunity as part of the Science for Humanitarian Emergencies & Resilience (SHEAR) research programme, funded by the Department for International Development (DFID) and NERC.

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Since 1980 natural disasters have caused more than 2·5 million fatalities, of which around 95% have occurred in developing countries. The 2011 Humanitarian Emergency Response Review (HERR) (PDF, 2MB) - external link recognised that a more effective response to natural disasters requires greater investment up-front on preparedness and resilience. The mid-term review of the Hyogo Framework for Action[1] highlighted that since 2005 progress has been made in disaster risk reduction in many countries, but this is unequal and many of the world's poorest people are being left behind. SHEAR's outcome will be to enhance risk reduction through improved forecasting and decision-making for disaster preparedness and response. This will be enabled by improved characterisation and forecasting of co-dependent natural hazard risks, delivered through new, tailored knowledge mechanisms and tools.

A number of scoping studies have informed the development of the SHEAR programme, highlighting the gaps in current science that are necessary to predict the impacts of multiple natural hazards. A key area of interest is the intersection between the hydrometeorological sciences and geophysical sciences that is necessary for monitoring and predicting so-called cascading (or secondary) natural hazards like landslides and floods that follow primary events. For example, how does extreme precipitation leads to landsliding, what controls the spatial scale of the landslides and how are landscapes likely to respond to future changes in the hydrological cycle? What is the role of hydrological pre-conditioning in landsliding?

The NERC component of SHEAR research will be targeted around two main themes. Additional cross-cutting themes will enable a highly interconnected and multi-disciplinary programme. The two main themes are:

  • World-leading research into hydrological controls on landslide hazard as part of multi-hazard risk assessment.
  • Flood and drought risk assessment and modelling in Africa as part of multi-hazard risk assessment.

The crosscutting themes will connect the landslide focused research in Theme 1 with research into new applications of flood and drought risk assessment modelling in Africa as part of multi-hazard risk assessment in Theme 2. These are:

  • Real-time monitoring of risk (eg satellites, big data, vulnerability indicators).
  • Applications of weather forecasting in risk assessment and preparedness.

The programme will link across existing strategic research programmes run by NERC and ESRC such as IRNH - Increasing Resilience to Natural Hazards and PURE - Probability Uncertainty and Risk in the Environment.

  1. The Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015 was adopted by 168 governments in 2005 and provides a comprehensive framework for governments and other actors to reduce the impacts of disasters.


2015 - 2022

Can I apply for a grant?

No, the funding round has closed.


£19 million, five-year research programme, joint NERC / DFID / ESRC.

Programme awards

Award details are shown in our online grants browser - Grants on the Web.

View details of funded applications - external link