CSE Awarded Grant to Create a National Risk Management Plan for Qatar

College of Science and Engineering Awarded Grant to Create a National Risk Management Plan for Qatar

04 Dec 2022

QAR 16.1 million QNRF grant will enable HBKU and international partners to strengthen the risk-resilience-sustainability nexus.

HBKU’s College of Science and Engineering Awarded Grant to Create a National Risk Management Plan for Qatar

Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU)’s College of Science and Engineering (CSE) is spearheading critical research to create an effective national risk management plan for Qatar. A new research project - “ReSolVE (Resilient Solutions for Vulnerabilities and Emergencies): An Effective National Risk Management Plan for Qatar”, led by Dr. Sami G. Al-Ghamdi, Associate Professor in the Sustainable Development Division at CSE, and head of the Sustainable Built Environment (SBE) group, as the Project Director and Lead Principal Investigator, has received a QAR 16.1 million (USD $4.4 million) grant award under Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF)’s National Priorities Research Program (NPRP) in the 14th cycle. 

ReSolVE was awarded under the new NPRP-Cluster (NPRP-C) focusing on National Emergency Preparedness, Response, and Resilience (NEPRR) thematic area, launched by QNRF to support Qatar’s relevant capabilities. Dr. Al-Ghamdi and his team will work with expert teams from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the University of Maryland, College Park (UMD), Texas A&M University at Qatar (TAMUQ), and Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCM-Q).

During unexpected events or disasters, two major categories of infrastructure and systems are significantly impacted: (i) physical infrastructure (transportation, energy, and water systems), and (ii) healthcare infrastructure. To anticipate and enhance its resilience to unprecedented climate events, it is vital for Qatar to assess its own existing infrastructure, systems, and service provisions and evaluate any potential vulnerabilities. Commenting on the importance of this awarded NPRP-Cluster project, Dr. Mounir Hamdi, Founding Dean of CSE, noted: “This awarded project is extremely significant towards creating a resilient emergency preparedness structure and corresponding policies for the State of Qatar.” 

The ReSolVE project’s overarching goal is to develop a robust methodology and framework for a Risk-Resilience-Sustainability (RRS) nexus, driven by a full data management plan, to assess and identify the potential risks, vulnerabilities, and impacts of emergencies or disasters faced by Qatar, and provide resilient solutions. ReSolVE consists of five sub-projects (SPs). 

SP-1, led by Dr. Al-Ghamdi, involves project management and developing a holistic framework and metrics through a robust data-management plan in a system-of-systems fashion using analysis of the different infrastructures carried out in other SPs. 

In SP-2, HBKU researchers will collaborate with MIT researchers, led by Dr. Elfatih A. B. Eltahir, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, focusing on climate change modeling and hazard identification to quantify the environmental changes and hazards for Qatar in the coming decades. This SP involves investigating the effects of climate change on weather conditions and diseases in the context of Qatar, as well as identifying potential hazards. 

The climate change data from SP-2 will be used by two teams, from WCM-Q and HBKU, and UMD and HBKU, to do a risk assessment of the resilience of Qatar’s health and physical infrastructures in SP-3 and SP-4, respectively. The healthcare infrastructure assessment will be supervised by Dr. Ali Sultan, Professor of Teaching in Microbiology and Immunology at WCM-Q, in conjunction with Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH). The assessment of Qatar’s healthcare infrastructure is important. The broad areas of human health influenced by climate change include metabolic diseases, work-related illnesses, occupational health, and infectious diseases. The physical infrastructure assessment will be supervised by Dr. Bilal Ayyub, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at UMD. This SP will examine the relevant risks and vulnerabilities of Qatar’s physical infrastructure, such as transportation, energy, and water networks, to identify potential cost-effective upgrades and communicate the findings to support policy and decision-making. 

At the same time, another team led by Dr. Khalid Qaraqe, Professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at TAMUQ, along with partner institutions, will participate in the design of high-speed communications to strengthen communication and information infrastructure in these sectors in SP-5. The data from climate change, physical and healthcare infrastructures, and high-speed communications will then be integrated to develop a framework that will help in forming policies, mitigation measures, and strengthening the resilience-sustainability-nexus in SP-1. 

For the project’s smooth execution and to achieve tangible outcomes, Dr. Al-Ghamdi explained: “HBKU will examine public, legal, and economic policies in the framework development, and will then propose and quantify the risk indicators tailored to Qatar. For the effective execution of the project, a steering committee will be formed, comprising high-ranking officials from Qatar’s government agencies and institutions.” In an acknowledgment of the importance of this project, several governmental and private entities, namely, the MoPH, the Ministry of Interior (MOI), TÜBITAK BILGEM, and the Al-Attiyah Foundation, have agreed to co-fund the ReSolVE project. 

The world has witnessed unprecedented weather events brought on by climate change that have caused major infrastructure destruction in the past decades. These devastating weather events provide unambiguous evidence of how crucial it is that all countries put an effective national risk management plan in place. In the era of climate change, ReSolVE is both a timely and significantly important project, not only for Qatar but countries worldwide. 

For more information on the research initiatives and programs at the College of Science and Engineering, please visit cse.hbku.edu.qa