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Dr. David G. Howell
Dear Dr. Howell:
I am delighted and deeply touched on being recognized and honoured by ILRG, the most vibrant landslide research group in the world and a name whose motto is to facilitate and promote unselfish international cooperation in landslide research, regional landslide analyses and hazard mitigation.
It is an honour and privilege for having my name added to the list of previous four distinguished recipients of the ILRG Awards: Prof: Lucio Ubertini, Director of the Italian National Research Council Institute for Hydrological Protection of Central Italy (CNR/IRPI); Prof Jose Chacon, Granada University, Spain; Dr. Robert Schuster, Research Geologist/Civil Engineer, U. S. Geological Survey, USA; and Mr. William Cotton, Cotton, Shires, and Associates, USA.
This award is symbolic of the contributions made by the bright Caribbean postgraduate and undergraduate students with whom I have interacted over the last two decades and Unit for Disaster Studies in the Department of Geography and Geology, the University of the West Indies at Mona.
With the support of the University of the West Indies at Mona and Head, Geography and Geology Department, I have been privileged to be involved in several activities in the field of landslide and other natural hazards research over the last two decades. These initiatives not only facilitated local and regional landslide meetings, workshops, and courses but also paved the way for the Jamaican and Caribbean researchers, professionals, and students to learn from and interact with prominent international scientists involved in landslide research including Jerry DeGraff, Jim McCalpin, David Howell, Bill Cotton, Avijit Gupta, Kevin Northmore, Doug VanDine, and Earl Brabb.
The start of my career in landslide research coincided with the May-June 1986 landslides which destroyed the rural community of Preston in the parish of St.Mary, Jamaica. An important lesson from this disaster was that earth scientists must learn to communicate science of landslides at a non-specialist level that directly benefits the citizenry and also is helpful to the elected and appointed officials of the government in land use decision-making process.
I would like to this opportunity to thank Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project (CDMP), Organization of American States, the British Geological Survey, Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), National Environment & Planning Agency (NEPA), Underground Water Authority (UWA), Geological Society of Jamaica and Jamaica Geographical Society, colleagues at the University of the West Indies, and friends for making this award possible. In particular, I would like to thank Earl Brabb, Barbara Carby, Jerry DeGraff, Aedan Earle, Avijit Gupta, Shakira Khan, Russell Maharaj Jr., Paul Manning, Jim McCalpin, Franklin McDonald, Kevin Northmore, Ben Oostdam, Ted Robinson, Deborah- Ann Rowe, Andrew Saunders, Paul Saunders, Doug VanDine, Jan Vermeiren, and Jennifer Worrell for their support, advice, and encouragement. Jim helped me to get involved in GIS. Ben and Andrew facilitated creation of Unit for Disaster Studies homepage that has become an effective online resource for disseminating landslide analyses and also information on natural hazards to a wide variety of users including students in the secondary and tertiary educational institutions.
On a personal basis, I would like to recognize the importance of affection, support, and understanding of my wife Nasima and our son Ghazzali and daughter Kulsoom. My family has been a very important ingredient in any measure of success that I have achieved.
Given an ever increasing toll of landslide losses, especially in the developing world, it is necessary to bring landslides hazard mitigation into the mainstream of sustainable development strategies. I hope to be able to witness the beginning of systematic implementation of landslide mitigation in Jamaica and the wider Caribbean.
I am especially pleased on being recognized by ILRG, an organization with membership in some 102 countries, who are concerned about sharing information on landslide research and promoting regional landslide analyses for landslide loss reduction. Being associated with the ILRG community remains a most moving experience of my life.
Thank you again, ILRG Executive, President- Dr. Earl Brabb, and Executive Director, Dr. David Howell.
Best regards, Rafi Ahmad [firstname.lastname@example.org]