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NIFA and NSF Announce Awards from the Competition on Disaster Resilience in Rural Communities

Media Contact: Jennifer Martin, (202) 720-8188

WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2010 – USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded seven grants to enhance the capacity of rural communities to respond to and recover from natural disasters, an investment that has been largely neglected in recent years.

 “While NSF has previously funded several projects on disaster resilience, this is a new area of research for NIFA,” said Roger Beachy, NIFA director.  “By joining with NSF, we are not only increasing funding for research on disaster resilience, but are also combining the expertise of the larger research community to address the unique needs of our rural areas.”

NIFA and NSF identified disaster resilience as a potential joint program after Hurricane Katrina’s devastating impact on the Gulf Coast.  One of the newly funded projects involves building an index of rural community resilience, applying the index to the Gulf Coast, and exploring differences between urban, rural, coastal and non-coastal counties.  Another study is developing a new place-based vulnerability/resilience index and a disaster resilience tool kit.

The new knowledge these projects generate should be useful to government agencies, community-based organizations, non-government organizations and businesses to:

  • enhance the effectiveness of disaster warnings and help residents evacuate in safe and reliable ways;
  • improve service delivery after disasters;
  • hasten recovery after disasters so residents may return more quickly to their homes; and
  • develop policies, processes and systems to reduce the impacts of disasters on rural communities.


Fiscal Year 2010 grants include:

  • University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, Colo., $399,999
  • Florida International University, Miami, Fla., $359,853
  • University of Central Florida, Orlando, Fla., $387,556
  • Louisiana State University & A&M College, Baton Rouge, La., $390,028
  • University of New Hampshire, Durham, N.H., $399,868
  • University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, N.C., $379,649
  • University of Vermont, Burlington, Vt., $396,051


NIFA and NSF expect to continue this program in FY 2011, with a joint solicitation expected to be announced in the fall.  Funding for this solicitation from NIFA is through the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative, which provides funding for fundamental and applied research, extension and education to address food and agricultural sciences.  Funding for this solicitation from NSF is through the Decision, Risk and Management Sciences Program in the Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences Directorate and from the Infrastructure Management and Extreme Events Program in the Engineering Directorate.

Through funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people's daily lives and the nation's future. For more information, visit


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