Research and Innovation in the Context of Disaster Resilience in the Sri Lankan Higher Education Sector

Fernando, Nishara, Hettige, S.T., Weerasinghe, K.D.N., Navaratne, C.M., Siriwardana, C.S.A., Amaratunga, Dilanthi, Haigh, Richard and Liyanage, Champika Lasanthi orcid iconORCID: 0000-0001-6687-3611 (2021) Research and Innovation in the Context of Disaster Resilience in the Sri Lankan Higher Education Sector. In: International Symposium on Multi-Hazard Early Warning and Disaster Risk Reduction, 14 - 16 December 2020, Virtual.

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The significance of developing robust multi-stakeholder Disaster Resilience (DR) mechanisms has multiplied in the last few decades. Accordingly, countries around the world have taken measures to strengthen the capacity of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) with regard to DR as they have the potential of generating research-based guidelines and developing interventions. It is in this context that this paper attempts to investigate the status of Research and Innovation (R&I) within HEIs in Sri Lanka. It examines the existing policies, infrastructure and the status of the research staff in relation to R&I. Key informant interviews were conducted with a purposively selected sample of academics from national universities, policy makers, and directors who are actively engaged in DR and Disaster Management (DM). The findings reveal that Sri Lanka lacks a national policy on R&I, which in turn has reduced the support received by researchers from HEIs. Furthermore, lack of systematic training, absence of multi-stakeholder participation and limited permanent research staff were identified as major barriers. In addition, the findings suggest that Sri Lankan HEIs should focus on establishing a national policy to develop R&I, allocate more funds to carryout R&I within HEIs and establish a permanent cadre who is highly qualified in research to further improve R&I capacities. It concludes that the prevailing capacities of Sri Lankan HEIs are inadequate and emphasizes the importance of taking prompt measures to improve R&I capacities in HEIs.

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