Musabber Ali Chisty, a graduate research assistant at the Natural Hazards Center, has won the prestigious Jeanne X. Kasperson Student Paper Competition. This award is offered through the Hazards, Risks, and Disasters Specialty Group of the American Association of Geographers (AAG). The specialty group is working to promote research, education, and the application of knowledge about natural, technological, and social hazards. Chisty will receive free registration for the 2023 AAG Annual Meeting in Denver, Colorado, where the award-winning paper will be presented in a special session.

The paper is entitled “Assessing Effectiveness of Volunteers in Disaster Risk Management: A Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) Study in Flood-Prone Areas of Bangladesh.” In this work, Chisty assessed how trained volunteers can effectively manage the impacts of disasters. As a native of Bangladesh, he focused his study area on the Ganges delta and implemented a randomized controlled trial (RCT) tool to assess the effect of volunteer training on improving flood management skills. The study revealed that volunteers can be one of the major resources to respond during a disaster and reduce loss. The RCT results showed that trained volunteers could develop flood preparedness plans, prioritize vulnerabilities while responding during floods, and ensure technical contribution in the recovery phase. Whereas untrained volunteers were not able to complete these tasks. The work concludes with recommendations for professionalizing flood volunteers through policies like National Plan for Disaster Management (NPDM), National Disaster Management Policy, and Standing Orders on Disaster (SOD) in Bangladesh as it faces devasting floods every year.

Chisty looks forward to participating in the AAG Annual Meeting and presenting his paper, as it represents an opportunity for exchange with other scholars regarding innovative ideas and tools to use in disaster risk reduction research. “I think getting the opportunity to present my work has reciprocal benefits as I will get to learn others’ experiences and share my own learning and best practices from my country. We all have a stake to continue working to reduce vulnerabilities, and these platforms will help us to learn more about comprehensive disaster risk management,” Chisty said.

In addition to his work at the Natural Hazards Center, Chisty is also completing his first year of doctoral studies in the Department of Sociology at the University of Colorado Boulder. He works with his advisor and Center director Lori Peek and is concentrating on social vulnerabilities and intersectionality in disaster risk reduction. Back in Bangladesh, Chisty is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Disaster Management and Vulnerability Studies, University of Dhaka.

“We are so fortunate to have Musabber here at the University of Colorado Boulder,” Peek said. He brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise and a strong global focus to the challenges he seeks to understand and address through his pathbreaking research.”