A lack of global investment in strengthening community resilience is leaving tens of millions of people exposed to predictable, preventable and catastrophic disaster risks, stresses the World Disasters Report 2016, launched today by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
According to the report, despite broad recognition that investing in resilience before a disaster can save lives and money, only 40 cents in every 100 US dollars spent on international aid is invested in preparedness and measures to reduce disaster risk.
“We must invest in resilience in order to better protect people’s lives, livelihoods and dignity,” said Irish Red Cross Head of International Relations, John Roche. “The old aid model is no longer viable on its own, steps must be taken to reduce risks and strengthen communities before disasters strike”.
The World Disasters Report 2016 paints a picture of a world facing complex challenges that cannot be comprehensively addressed through post-disaster response or emergency interventions.
Forced migration is at its highest level since the Second World War. The number and scale of disasters triggered by natural hazards are increasing. Globalisation and urbanisation means outbreaks and other health crises are harder to contain, and the impact of climate change is taking its toll – 2015 was the hottest year on record with 32 major droughts, double the ten-year average.
Between 1991 and 2010, the impact of recorded disaster events in poor countries resulted in over 840 billion US dollars of financial losses. Yet, over the same period, only 0.4 per cent of the 3.3 trillion US dollars spent on aid was dedicated to prevention or risk reduction.
“It is clear that something must change,” said co-editors David Sanderson and Anshu Sharma. “But responding to today’s humanitarian challenges is not just a question of finance. We must invest in solutions and partnerships that produce future resilience – livelihoods and social cohesion, health and psychosocial well-being, supporting communities to withstand future shocks and adversity.”
From forecast-based financing and preparedness activities in Bangladesh to seed bank building in Senegal, the World Disasters Report outlines numerous examples showing how more resilient communities cope better with risks and hazards.
The Irish Red Cross has been working with communities in Niger for more than 10 years to improve food security through resilience programmes, such as crop rotation, grain storage, and access to safe water. In the Philippines and Nepal the Irish charity is also working with communities to better prepare them for major disasters like typhoons and earthquakes. In both countries the charity is helping build stronger homes and improve livelihood resilience.