Disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation
© B. Blondel / HI
Disaster risks are a significant challenge due to increased vulnerability and reduced capacity to cope with natural and man-made hazards.
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A major challenge
Over the last two decades, 218 million people each year have been affected by disasters; at an annual cost to the global economy in excess of $300 billion.1 Disasters are likely to become more frequent. Indeed, climate change increases the intensity and frequency of weather events, especially in the coastal areas which are home to the majority of the world’s population.
When disaster strikes, the most at-risk groups, including people with disabilities, are disproportionately affected. For example, according to the UN, only 1 person with disabilities in 5 worldwide is capable of evacuating without difficulty in the event of a disaster.2 Disasters usually means higher mortality for women than men and children, young people and the elderly make up a large proportion of those affected. For instance, following the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka, mortality among children under five was double that of adults over 50 years old.3 Moreover, these disasters can cause damage and casualties.
HI and the disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation
Fully aware of this situation, HI has been active in implementing Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) for the last 15 years. Its interventions expanded in the mid-2000s in Asia and are now also deployed in more than 20 countries mainly in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean. Over the years, HI has learned from its experience, using different intervention methods, all of which have contributed to strengthening our strategy of inclusive DRR and furthering climate change adaptation.
Through its inclusive DRR projects, HI promotes an integrated approach that ensures the full and meaningful participation of all groups and individuals most vulnerable to risk, in a context of climate change, to create a sustainable and resilient community.
Over the past 15 years, HI’s mandate on inclusive DRR (iDRR) strategies and networks has evolved. HI has become an inclusive DRR practitioner, directly implementing inclusive DRR projects and building the capacities of DRR actors, against the backdrop of climate change. Internally, HI country programmes integrate DRR components into their development and humanitarian projects. HI also plays a role in international advocacy around inclusive DRR.
In practice, DRR practitioners are considered to be insufficiently inclusive, which means they fail to make sure that at-risk groups, including people with disabilities, are fully engaged in DRR practices and therefore less affected by disasters. Considering that some specific groups (based on age, gender and disability) are at a higher risk from disasters, inclusive DRR involves reducing the vulnerability of the most excluded groups and increasing their capacity to reduce the risk.
HI proposes two main intervention methods
A technical assistance
The first consists of providing technical assistance to the other DRR stakeholders (NGOs, governmental agencies or donors), to improve their capacity to propose inclusive risk reduction solutions and ensure the full participation of the most at risk populations (notably persons with disabilities, women, young people and elderly people) throughout the disaster risk reduction process.
A direct intervention at the community level
HI’s second DRR intervention method requires the organisation to intervene directly at community level, as a DRR actor and expert. This method is used exclusively to implement specific inclusive DRR activities (through prevention, mitigation and disaster preparedness activities), based on an integrated approach, making good use of other sectors of intervention to promote resilience at every step of the risk management process.
DRR is a cross-cutting theme
Several activities, such as the risk diagnosis methodologies and the emergency preparedness initiatives, can easily be mainstreamed into many other sectors of intervention to ensure the continuum of services and build populations’ resilience: livelihoods, water, sanitation and hygiene, physical rehabilitation, armed violence reduction, education etc.
Internally, the Disaster Risk Reduction and Climate Change Adaptation sector is now part of the “Protection and Risk Reduction Division” of HI, which illustrates our organisation’s aim to more systematically propose a holistic approach to risk management, by addressing both man-made (including violence and conflicts) and natural disaster risks.
Photo : © B. Marquet / HI