We can reduce the damage caused by natural hazards

01Jun 2019
The Guardian
We can reduce the damage caused by natural hazards

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) aims to reduce the damage caused by natural hazards like earthquakes, floods, droughts and cyclones, through an ethic of prevention.

Disasters often follow natural hazards. A disaster's severity depends on how much impact a hazard has on society and the environment.

Disaster risk reduction  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. 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. The most commonly cited definition of DRR is one used by UN agencies such as UNISDR, also known as the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, and UNDP:  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.

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.[3]

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.

African governments have been  urged to understand disaster risk, strengthen disaster risk governance, invest in resilience, and enhance disaster preparedness.

Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General (SRSG) for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Mami Mizutori made the call during the sixth Session of the Global Platform for Disaster Risk Reduction  in Geneva, Switzerland. The meeting has been organized by the UN Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR) and hosted by the government of Switzerland.

She said that to realize that governments should come up with better strategies to manage risks to human life and material property, ranging from air pollution and biological hazards, through to earthquakes, drought, and climate change.

The UN official said that there is an urgent need for governments to take practical action on the implementation of Sendai framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030, which outlines seven clear targets and four priorities for action to prevent new and reduce existing disaster risks

Mizutori said the Sendai framework set five targets and seven indicators, and 192 agreed to implement for the betterment of their people and economic.

She noted that the UNDRR global assessment report on disaster risk reduction outlines major potential risks to human life and property, including climate change, air pollution, biological hazards and prolong drought.

According to her, the report points out what should be done to reduce risk sand having sustainable plans for infrastructures and urbanisation. And it also notify the news risks emerging, including where an extreme weather event realises, a hidden technological risk, causing disruption with cascading impacts on business continuity.

She also warned that unsustainable patterns of economic activity hide the build-up of systemic risks across sectors citing for example, dangerous over dependence on single crops in an age of accelerating global warming.

There is growing potential for one disaster to produce or exacerbate another as happens often in the case of heavy rains which trigger landslides and mudslides following wildfires or periods of long drought.

Adopted by UN Member States in 2015, the Sendai Framework aims to reduce the impact of disasters in terms of mortality, numbers of people affected, and economic loss. It requires. 

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