A decade after the devastating Indian Ocean tsunami killed hundreds of thousands of people and left millions homeless, the Irish Red Cross is calling on the international community to scale-up efforts to protect and prepare vulnerable communities from the threat of disasters.
As the world remembers the 226,000 people who died on December 26 2004, the Red Cross is urging governments, donors and international organisations to commit to making greater investments around clear and realistic targets designed to reduce disaster risks at the community level.
In 2005, 168 governments signed up to the Hyogo Framework for Action – a ten-year blueprint designed to prioritise risk-reduction. In March 2015, a new declaration will be announced at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction taking place in Sendai, Japan.
The international Red Cross movement was one of the biggest international responders following the tsunami, with an operation which spanned 14 countries. The Red Cross reached 4.3 million people with humanitarian assistance. Providing safe housing was a priority and 57,000 families received new homes across Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the Maldives. But, working with communities to reduce disaster risk was also a central pillar of recovery efforts and the legacy of those initiatives lives on today.
In Thailand schools based programmes were established to teach disaster preparedness to children, in Sri Lanka thousands of emergency-responders have been trained, in Indonesia radio networks were set up as early warning systems and mangrove planting projects were introduced to protect coastal communities from the sea to reduce the impact of coastal flooding.
Reduce Disaster Risk
Last year, 22 million people were displaced by disasters – three times more than by war. It is predicted natural disasters will have a global cost of more than US dollar 421 billion by 2030 – an increase of 300 per cent. But studies show spending now on building community resilience will save governments millions in the future, with every dollar invested saving more than 15 dollars in emergency response and recovery costs, according to a study by the Red Cross.