Disaster Risk Reduction and Community

Submitted by Kuldeep Sagar on June 28, 2011 - 1:43pm.

Each year, more than 35 million people flee their homes as a result of war, crime, riots, political unrest, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, typhoons, and other forms of conflict and so-called “natural” disasters. Through climate change and other causes, few of these disasters are really natural - and their number is increasing.
Storms, floods, famine, cyclones, drought, typhoons, earthquakes, mudslides, avalanches. Each year for the past decade, an average of 258 million people have lived through some kind of disaster – in total, this is the equivalent of almost half of the world’s population.
According to the Red Cross, an average of 354 natural disasters occurred throughout the world each year from 1991 to 1999. Between 2000 and 2004, this figure more than doubled to an average of 728 natural disasters per year.
And each year, the death toll from disasters is growing greater – from 84,570 in 1995 to 249,896 ten years later, according to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development
All disasters cannot be prevented but their impact and risks can be reduced. If current trends continue, natural disasters could have a global cost of more than USD 300 billion a year by 2050. In this discussion cost of time and money to poor communities are often not accounted for. This concerns me a lot and repeatedly.

Poverty, vulnerability and disasters are closely linked - it is most often the resource poorest who are worst affected and suffer most. Their poverty makes them more vulnerable. Communities’ capacities to cope with disasters and recover from the effects are constrained by lack of resources. Many communities integrated DRR in disaster recovery efforts in recent years, which prove valuable against natural calamities, can be transferred and adapted to other communities of similar condition. There is a need of community to community interaction and sharing of the experiences beyond various—national or institutional or sectoral or hazard type—boundaries. There is a need of establishing Community to Community links on DRR to strengthen communities’ efforts on disaster risk reduction. I think there is a need to focus on disaster affected communities’ rights: Right to Livelihood, Right to Safety, Right to Education, and Right to Housing. I think that in the end CBDM or DRR should enhance the Rights of the community. Authorities and Acts and Institutions should not manage or regulate or control but serve the community. Is this happening in current HFA or UN process?

Local communities worldwide have developed knowledge on disaster risk reduction and responded to natural disasters using their indigenous knowledge. There are many prominent examples of communities used their indigenous knowledge they have developed over many years to survive disastrous events and cope with difficult environmental situations. These communities' use of indigenous knowledge to reduce risk, cope and survive natural disasters need to be recognized. This knowledge contains numerous other important characteristics which differentiate it from other types of knowledge.

These include originating within the community, maintaining a non-formal means of dissemination, collectively owned, developed over several generations and subject to adaptation, and imbedded in a community's way of life as a means of survival

The relationship between indigenous knowledge and natural disasters has developed more interest in recent years. The new discussions around indigenous knowledge highlight its potential to improve disaster risk reduction policies through integration into disaster education and early warning systems. Throughout disaster risk reduction literature, four primary arguments have been made for the value of indigenous knowledge. First, various specific indigenous practices
and strategies embedded in the knowledge, which prove valuable against natural disasters, can be transferred and adapted to other communities in similar situations. Second, an incorporation of indigenous knowledge in existing practices and policies encourages the participation of the affected community and empowers its members to take the leading role in all disaster risk reduction activities. Third, the information contained in indigenous knowledge can help improve project implementation by providing valuable information about the local context. Finally,
the non-formal means by which indigenous knowledge is disseminated provides a successful model for other education on disaster risk reduction. We aim to disseminate indigenous strategies and mechanisms which can be transferred and adapted to other communities. Broader initiative in the region which aims to analyze the importance of indigenous knowledge and develop ways for this knowledge to be further integrated into disaster risk reduction policy and practice. The communities successfully reduce disaster risk have been given little attention by the disaster planning mechanism. Much of the knowledge embedded in these communities has been dismissed by outsiders as inferior and often ignored as belonging to poor people. Yet many of these communities have developed successful lessons and strategies for managing recurring disasters and surviving extreme events which even high tech instruments are unable to help. All of these communities share a common ability to depend on themselves during disasters and a similar understanding of local threats and how to reduce these risks. There are many lessons to be learned from these communities.

People can prepare, cope and recover
In Europe, people already growing accustomed to hotter and longer summers. They are ready to cope with the foreseeable future. Now think a hotter summer, wetter monsoon season or heavier storms in developing or less developed countries. Can a fisherman in Bangladesh, a market trader in Africa, or a pastoral in Central America be able to cope?
THE answer is yes. But only if they have the means to do so as active partners in whole gamut of Disaster Risk Reduction strategy and its implementation.

Tags: DDR
Submitted by umakant on June 13, 2012 - 11:42am.

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