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DRR Day 2014

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is a systematic approach to identifying, assessing and reducing the risks of disaster. It aims to reduce socio-economic vulnerabilities to disaster as well as dealing with the environmental and other hazards that trigger them: Here it has been strongly influenced by the mass of research on vulnerability that has appeared in print since the mid-1970s. It is the responsibility of development and relief agencies alike. It should be an integral part of the way such organisations do their work, not an add-on or one-off action. DRR is very wide-ranging: Its scope is much broader and deeper than conventional emergency management. There is potential for DRR initiatives in just about every sector of development and humanitarian work.

The most commonly cited definition of DRR is on

"The conceptual framework of elements considered with the possibilities to minimize vulnerabilities and disaster risks throughout a society, to avoid (prevention) or to limit (mitigation and preparedness) the adverse impacts of hazards, within the broad context of sustainable development.

 

Development of the concept and approach-:

The evolution of disaster management thinking and practice since the 1970s has seen a progressively wider and deeper understanding of why disasters happen, accompanied by more integrated, holistic approaches to reduce their impact on society. The modern paradigm of disaster management — disaster risk reduction (DRR) — represents the latest step along this path. DRR is a relatively new concept in formal terms, but it embraces much earlier thinking and practice. It is being widely embraced by international agencies, governments, disaster planners and civil society organisations.[4]

Many see climate change as having a direct impact on the prevalence and seriousness of disasters, as well as causing them to be more frequent in the future. There are growing efforts to closely link DRR and climate change adaptation, both in policy and practice.

DRR is such an all-embracing concept that it has proved difficult to define or explain in detail, although the broad idea is clear enough. Inevitably, there are different definitions in the technical literature, but it is generally understood to mean the broad development and application of policies, strategies and practices to minimise vulnerabilities and disaster risks throughout society. The term ‘disaster risk management’ (DRM) is often used in the same context and to mean much the same thing: a systematic approach to identifying, assessing and reducing risks of all kinds associated with hazards and human activities. It is more properly applied to the operational aspects of DRR: the practical implementation of DRR initiatives.

There have been growing calls for greater clarity about the components of DRR and about indicators of progress toward resilience — a challenge that the international community took up at the UN’s World Conference on Disaster Reduction (WCDR) in Kobe, Japan, in 2005, only days after the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake. The WCDR began the process of pushing international agencies and national governments beyond the vague rhetoric of most policy statements and toward setting clear targets and commitments for DRR. The first step in this process was the formal approval at the WCDR of the Hyogo Framework for Action (2005–2015) (HFA). This is the first internationally accepted framework for DRR. It sets out an ordered sequence of objectives (outcome – strategic goals – priorities), with five priorities for action attempting to ‘capture’ the main areas of DRR intervention. The UN's biennial Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction provides an opportunity for the UN and its member states to review progress against the Hyogo Framework. It held its first session 5–7 June 2007 in Geneva, Switzerland.

UN initiatives have helped to refine and promote the concept at international level, stimulated initially by the UN's designation of the 1990s as the International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction.

Some issues and challenges in DRR-:

It is unrealistic to expect progress in every aspect of DRR: capacities and resources are insufficient. Governments and other organisations have to make what are in effect ‘investment decisions’, choosing which aspects of DRR to invest in, when, and in what sequence. This is made more complicated by the fact that many of the interventions advocated are developmental rather than directly related to disaster management. Most existing DRR guidance sidesteps this issue. One way of focusing is to consider only actions that are intended specifically to reduce disaster risk. This would at least distinguish from more general efforts toward sustainable development. The concept of ‘invulnerable development’ attempts this: In this formulation, invulnerable development is development directed toward reducing vulnerability to disaster, comprising ‘decisions and activities that are intentionally designed and implemented to reduce risk and susceptibility, and also raise resistance and resilience to disaster’.

Research has shown the impact of further investment in effective preparedness, as the benefits with regards to reducing humanitarian caseloads far outweigh the costs; a case study of Niger showed positive cost and benefit results across all scenarios. Three different scenarios were modeled, from the absolute level of disaster loss, to the potential reduction in disaster loss and the discount rate. It is estimated that every $1 spent results in $3.25 of benefit in the most conservative scenario. This increases to $5.31 of benefit for the least conservative scenario.

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