Inclusive Disaster Risk Reduction and Management

There are several multilateral organizations aiming to address the unequal destruction that is caused from things like earthquakes or floods.  According to the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction, there is no such thing as a natural disaster, only natural hazards. As such, Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) aims to decrease damage done by natural hazards.  “DRR can preserve lives and increase the resilience of communities by strengthening their capacity to anticipate, absorb and recover from these shocks.” Through systematic efforts to analyze and reduce the factors behind disasters, the UN and other organizations specifically for DRR and DRM aim to lessen vulnerabilities, promote wise management of land and environment, and improve preparedness and early detection. 

Climate Risk and Early Warning Systems (CREWS) discusses how, at the UN Climate Action Summit 2019 countries pledged to many actions regarding detection. They point out that investments in early warning systems not only save lives but also significant assets. The Global Climate Action Summit 2019 committed to protect 1 billion more people from disasters through investing millions in early warning systems. In order to be effective and sustainable, warning systems must actively involve the communities at risk. With the recognition of benefits by local people, the impact of hazards can be significantly reduced if not avoided. One early warning system, Practical Action, has been working in DRR in Nepal since 2001, and their early warning system for the regular flooding of the Koshi River was built for long-term sustainability and community involvement. Can the technical aspects of reducing risks of disaster be effective without addressing inequality and inclusion? 

Along with the technical aspects of DRR and DRM like warning systems and management of land and environment, its level of inclusivity will no doubt have implications for the resilience of communities to natural hazards. Earthquakes, floods, forest fires, etc affect different people in unequal ways, particularly regarding their level of vulnerability. Vulnerability is complex; it is not just about poverty, but includes physical, social, economic, and environmental factors. Also, vulnerability is shaped by historical, political, and institutional processes. Persons with disabilities are disproportionately vulnerable to disasters and disability inclusion is key to inclusive DRR and humanitarian action. “Achieving disability-inclusive DRM can empower persons with disabilities to take their rightful place as agents of change, and as active contributors to the development and effective implementation of DRM policies, plans and standards.” Being disability-inclusive is necessary in DRR and DRM not only for the resilience of communities but also for society as a whole.