Humanitarian Engineering


Title:Humanitarian engineering at the sustainability-development nexus: mapping vulnerability and capability factors for communities at risk of water-based disasters

Authors: Schismenos, S., Stevens, G.J., Emmanouloudis, D., Georgeou, N., Shrestha, S., and Chalaris, M.

Journal: Sustainability Science

Publisher: Springer

ISSN: 2654-182

DOI: 10.1007/s11625-020-00890-



Access to resources that is equitable and sustainable provides a critical foundation for community harmony and development. Both natural and human-induced disasters present major risks to sustainable development trajectories and require strategic management within regional and local plans. Climate change and its impacts, including intensified storms, flash floods, and other water-based disasters (WD), also pose a serious and increasing threat. Small, remote communities prone to weather extremes are particularly vulnerable as they often lack effective early warning systems and experience energy insufficiency. Humanitarian engineering provides a transdisciplinary approach to these issues, supporting practical development resources such as renewable energy, which can also be adapted for disaster response. This study details an exploratory investigation of community vulnerability and capability mapping (VCM) that identifies communities with high WD risk and limited response capability which may benefit from risk reduction engagement and program co-development. By presenting criteria appropriate for VCM, we highlight the anthropocentric characteristics that could potentially be incorporated within community-led action as part of a comprehensive scheme that promotes sustainable development.


Title: Humanitarian engineering and vulnerable communities: hydropower applications in localised flood response and sustainable development

Authors: Schismenos, S., Stevens, G.J., Emmanouloudis, D., Georgeou, N., Shrestha, S., and Chalaris M.

Journal: International Journal of Sustainable Energy

Publisher: Taylor and Francis

DOI: 10.1080/14786451.2020.1779274

Pages: 941-950


Humanitarian engineering offers substantial benefits to interventions for socio-economic development and disaster risk resilience, particularly amongst vulnerable populations facing energy insufficiency and extreme weather events in low- and lower-middle-income countries. Localised hydropower and early-warning applications are reliable and can support such communities. This study presents important criteria and in-depth investigations for small-scale hydropower generators combined with flood-warning systems. According to our findings, 300 W of generated power can provide sufficient coverage for basic energy needs under both normal and extreme conditions. Outdoor warnings such as emergency lights and sirens could increase local response capabilities and save lives during extremes. Our project highlights the use of community-led hydropower as a vehicle for disaster resilience and sustainable development


Title: Renewable Energy Generated by the Impacts of Natural and Accidental Water‐Based Disasters

Authors: Schismenos, S., Chalaris, M., Emmanouloudis, D., Katopodes, N., and Stevens, G.

Conference Proceedings: SafeKozani 2018 ‐ 5th International Conference on Civil Protection & New Technology

ISSN: 2654-1823

Pages: 378-384


In 2018, Hurricane Florence in the Southeast US Coast and Typhoon Mangkhut (known as Typhoon Ompong in the Philippines) in South China Sea caused 53 and 134 fatalities respectively. Such events highlight that the magnitude of extreme water‐based disasters (WDs) cannot always be accurately predicted at a local level, largely due to their scale and unpredictable nature.

Most current weather forecasting models present generalized or large‐scale solutions based on limited and/or inaccurate input data. As a result, incorrect or missed alarms frequently lead to property losses and human casualties, especially in remote and low income areas. Rural communities in riparian and deltaic areas are often affected, as they are unable to manage WDs effectively. Furthermore, insufficient and unstable power resources in these regions also undermine disaster response capabilities, along with wider socio‐economic growth. 

Hydropower could provide solutions, as it offers the potential of energy production autonomy to such communities. However, can hydropower systems also provide warnings and “smart” evacuation routes during the WDs? This research introduces a pioneering plan for the use of potentially lost energy during the WDs to directly support emergency response. It investigates the conceptual model of a mini (or smaller‐scale) hydropower generator that includes early‐warning alarm systems appropriately designed to operate at the local level. In practice, this study focuses on units that support power needs to end‐users under both normal and extreme conditions. Positive outcomes could lead to the direct integration of sustainable economic development and disaster preparedness within these communities.

Title: Renewable Energy and Drones in Search and Rescue: Automated Network for Air-Sea Actions

Authors: Schismenos, S., Chalaris, M., Emmanouloudis, D., and Katopodes, N.

Conference Proceedings: SafeKozani 2018 ‐ 5th International Conference on Civil Protection & New Technology

ISSN: 2654-182

Pages: 378-384


Human migration has become a major concern for the experts in search and rescue. In 2018 alone, almost 80,000 migrants entered Europe by sea (Mediterranean Sea), while more than 2100 others died trying. These numbers highlight that the early detection of the migrant boats and sea survivors is essential in order to minimize casualties, especially during extreme weather events. For that reason, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are widely used in air‐sea rescue (ASR) missions. The UAVs surveil large areas in short periods of time; however, their power dependency limits their potential. The in situ recharge of the UAVs that surveil remote sea areas could be a possible solution to this problem. Tidal energy generators and wave energy converters (TWCs) combined with solar collectors could recharge them. Moreover, pre‐installed navigation systems could reduce the needs in recourses and overall costs. This research investigates these scenarios by introducing an automated network of multifunctional buoys and UAVs. Specifically, it presents the concept of TWC buoys capable of recharging one or more UAVs depending on the available energy generation. They are also equipped with mini solar collectors, meteorological sensors, warning systems and survival kits. The UAVs are equipped with thermal and color sensors in order to detect disturbances on the sea surface. By establishing this network in remote sea areas that include migrant sea routes, this study aims to provide the coast guard with a reliable, automated and self‐powered tool that could detect sea survivors or threats within sufficient given time.