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Disaster Risk Reduction thematic areas

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is very wide-ranging and there is potential and need for DRR interventions in just about every sector. For the most part, DRR interventions maintain a thematic focus, following the priorities set by the HFA. The following section presents a selection of key themes and interventions in DRR policy and practice.

Education and DRR

As a key element of the Hyogo Framework for Action, education is extremely important for increasing the capacity of people to deal with and reduce the risk of disasters. When devising educational programmes it is essential that the use of local knowledge from affected communities is included in the process. Adult education is of course essential, however for DRR to become sustainable and maintain a long-term focus it is important that it is incorporated into the schooling system. Children can also be involved in creating solutions to protect their local area and spread knowledge about DRR. This is particularly relevant as a school is often the central hub for education and social events in a community.

Community-based DRR

Local communities are perhaps the most important actor of all in DRR. They are the ones directly affected, who retain local knowledge vital to managing risk and are often responsible for carrying out early warning tasks. When a disaster hits, early warning can save thousands of lives - particularly from hazards such as earthquakes, cyclones and tsunamis - but alerting everyone in the vicinity is difficult. The community must be prepared to respond appropriately and also be consulted in the best way to do this. Participation is the central focus of the community-based DRR approach and priority is given to vulnerable groups. This includes tackling vulnerability caused by unequal development.

DRR in urban areas

Recent research has also emphasised the linkages between rapid urbanisation and disasters. Cities today are bigger and growing faster than ever in human history. More than half of the world’s current population live in urban areas. The linkages between rapid urbanisation and disasters have sometimes been described as reflexive: cities create their own risks by causing degradation of the local, regional, and global environments. High concentrations of resources and people within cities also means that the economic, social, and environmental costs of extreme events are high in urban areas. Poorly planned urban environments, weak urban governance, a lack of infrastructure and basic services, and rapid population growth have increased disaster risk in urban areas. Disaster risk has become, and will continue to be, an increasingly urban problem.

DRR and emergencies – building back better

Response and recovery efforts can either increase or decrease the risk of future disaster events, depending on how they are managed. Reviews of recent disaster recovery and rehabilitation efforts have concluded that such operations too often built back previous risk and in some case even increased pre-existing risks. Greater awareness of the longer term impacts of climate change has led to the recognition that the objectives of DRR need to go beyond restoring communities affected by disasters to their pre-disaster condition, and to focus instead on the opportunities that disasters provide to create long-term resilience. Hence, more attention is now being given to DRR in post disaster situations, in order to take advantage of the opportunities arising from crises for promoting sound DRR measures. These measures reduce future risk, and maximise the benefits for longer term development objectives and climate change adaptation.

Recommended reading...

Community risk assessment toolkit
ProVention Consortium 2007
This document details a toolkit aimed at strengthening community level risk assessment practice. It also focuses on ways of influencing disaster risk management decisions, policies and plans at sub-national and national levels.  ...
From grassroots to global: people centered disaster risk reduction
M. Pelling; E. M. Smith / ProVention Consortium 2008
In April 2008 a group of 170 partners met in Panama city to attend the forum ‘From Grassroots to Global: People-Centered Disaster Risk Reduction’. This document records the energy, ideas and views resulting from discussion...
Cooperation between local authority and communities: reducing flood disaster risk in Dagupan City, Philippines
Asian Disaster Preparedness Center 2007
This brief outlines the flood risks faced by Dagupan City, Philippines and highlights lessons learned in disaster risk reduction. In particular, this case shows how integrating flooding risk reduction as a regular and joint activity o...
Community risk transfer through micro-finance
I. Davis; K.P. De Costa; K. Alam / All India Disaster Mitigation Institute 2006
Microinsurance is emerging as a potential instrument for transferring natural disaster risks by providing cover, or indemnification, against losses from a disaster event. Currently there is a need for more learning informed by practic...
Preparing for disaster: a community based appraoch
K. Falk (ed); L. Nørgaard (ed); J. MacLean (ed) / ProVention Consortium 2005
During the past decade less people have died in natural disasters, but more and more lives and livelihoods are affected by the negative consequences of them. The increase is steep, triggered by more frequent extreme weather conditions...
Enabling child-centred agency in disaster risk reduction
F. Seballos (ed); T. Tanner (ed) / PreventionWeb 2010
Child-centred approaches to disaster risk reduction (DRR) and climate change adaptation (CCA) recognise the role and rights of children as citizens and agents of change. It is important to understand how children can be engaged in art...
Education and disaster risk reduction
G. Seynaeve / Prehospital and Disaster Medicine 2008
Preparedness is crucial to reducing the impact of events and hazards that have the potential of resulting in disaster. Education and training are likely to improve the multi-disciplinary health response to major events that threaten t...
Why is community action needed for disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation?
D. Satterthwaite / International Institute for Environment and Development 2011
This paper is an editorial of various others which bring out the importance of community action for disaster risk reduction, post-disaster rebuilding and climate change adaptation. It highlights the role that disaster-affected communi...
Desk review on trends in the promotion of community-based disaster risk reduction through legislation
International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies 2010
This paper presents a review of literature and recently adopted laws that are linked to the Hyogo Framework goals. It examines how disaster management legislations may promote tangible results at the community level and why it sometim...
World Disasters Report 2010: Focus on Urban Risk
International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies 2010
This report provides suggestions on how high disaster risk within developing countries cities can be reduced. It also highlights how, in a globalised world, a deficiency on one side of the world can create problems for all. The author...
Mainstreaming disaster risk reduction: a road towards sustainable urban development and creating safer urban communities
US Agency for International Development 2010
This paper examines the risks of natural hazards and disasters that challenge the development efforts of the urban or city development process. It also highlights how local government, as the key partner of the development process, co...
Climate Disaster Resilience: focus on coastal urban cities in Asia
R. Shaw / United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific 2009
Coastal urban cities in Asia are experiencing ever-increasing vulnerability due to climate change impacts and fast-growing urban development. This study measures the existing level of climate disaster resilience of the targeted areas ...
Urban and Megacities disaster risk reduction: manual of sound practices
F. Bendimerad; J. Buika; J. Fernandez / Earthquakes and Megacities Initiative 2007
Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is an important component for achieving sustainable development of cities and progress towards the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. This manual is a disaster risk communication tool aim...
Reducing Risk through Environment in Recovery Operations
J. Stephens / United Nations [UN] Environment Programme 2009
Increasing attention is being paid to the importance attached to environmental issues in recovery operations and the new challenges climate change will pose to communities already vulnerable to natural hazards. The purpose of this pap...
Disaster Risk Reduction. A review of DRR work by DEC Member Agencies in response to the 2004 Tsunami
A. Bhattacharjee; M. Bhatt; T. Vaux / Reliefweb 2010
This review report from the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) examines whether its vision of a more long-lasting impact had been achieved in terms of strengthening the 2004 Tsunami-affected population’s resilience to future en...
Drought in the Horn of Africa: preventing the next disaster
International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies 2011
The Horn of Africa’s most serious drought in decades has brought severe humanitarian consequences. Much of the suffering could have been avoided, and in a region plagued by recurrent drought, the greatest challenge today is prev...