What is Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)?
In Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) the disaster risk a community faces is assessed in a systematic, holistic way, and addressed wherever possible through activities that increase the resilience of those at risk. These actions may be things that: help to prevent disasters from happening (prevention), reduce the impact disasters have (mitigation), or prepare societies to deal with the effects of a disaster when they happen (preparedness).
What constitutes a disaster?
The combination of a hazardous event such as an earthquake, flood or drought and the community's resilience and infrastructure (or lack of it) come together to create a disaster. Of course some places are more prone to disasters than others – for example living on a flood plain or fault line will increase the risk. But adaptation, education and planning can greatly affect how much an emergency event impacts on people's lives.
Disaster Risk Reduction is about helping communities in places that are prone to disaster events be more able to avoid or withstand them. It may involve building in a way which is more able to withstand storms or earthquakes, or working with a community to build a strategy for what to do when an emergency occurs.
Disasters are increasing
Disasters affect a lot of people worldwide, and there are far more in any given year than the major ones we hear about in the news. Between 2000 and 2008, an average of 392 disasters occurred each year. Each year around 216 million people were affected and a total damage of over 90 billion British pounds (around 4 times the development aid of the European Union) was caused.
The last 35 years have shown a rising number of disaster events, as well as people affected and extent of damages. Current demographic shifts, climate change, environmental degradation and economic globalisation, mean it is expected that this rising trend will continue. Several of these are at a global level, and this is likely to have an impact on the scale of future disasters.
In general, poorer countries are most exposed to the risk of disasters, and least able to deal with the consequences. Often the most marginalised within those countries: the ultra-poor, women and children, are most affected.
While the humanitarian sector has become better at saving lives in the wake of a disaster, it is often not very good at saving livelihoods. Hazard events often have a huge negative impact on the lives of these people; their jobs and assets are destroyed, vital services disrupted, infrastructure damaged, and the environment people live in and depend on negatively affected.
Critical part of our work
CARE aims to achieve a profound, long-term, and wide benefit for all the communities with whom it works. In order to ensure this occurs in a large scale, ongoing, consistent fashion it is critical we include disaster risk and resilience building into all our work. For this reason CARE International has identified DRR as one of its priorities within its mandate regarding humanitarian assistance, reconstruction and development. DRR is in line with CARE's programming framework and principles of accountability and sustainability.
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