Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)
A girl carries her baby brother in a camp established for people displaced by mudslides, Uganda.
Like in many other parts of the world, natural hazards such as drought, storms and floods are a part of life in the Eastern and Southern Africa region. But hazards only become disasters when people’ or a society’s capacities to cope within existing resources are overwhelmed. Disaster risk, therefore, is the potential loss in lives, health status, livelihoods, assets and services, which could occur to a particular community or a society. And it’s the poor and marginalized who are most at risk.
Disaster risk reduction (DRR) aims at identifying, assessing and reducing those risks. It targets the national, sub-national, and, in particular, the community level, where people face risk and often know best how to prevent or reduce it. It requires governments, civil society, the private sector, and other actors to partner with the most vulnerable people to help prevent crisis situations from evolving into disasters, mitigate the impact of hazards, and prepare for the worst.
UNICEF in action
UNICEF’s presence before, during and after an emergency provides unique opportunities for including disaster risk reduction into both the development and humanitarian contexts. At the same time, its core programmes in the areas of health; nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene; education; child protection; and HIV/AIDS provide the ideal instruments to prepare for, prevent and mitigate disaster risk.
UNICEF-supported DRR programming is based on the international Hyogo Framework for Action (2005-2015), and is focused on five principal areas:
- DRR for children and women is a national and local priority;
- Different risks faced by girls, boys and women are identified and addressed;
- Safer and more resilient conditions for girls, boys and women;
- Strengthened humanitarian preparedness, response and recovery through capacity development.
In Eastern and Southern Africa, such efforts now include, for example, support for the construction of safe school buildings, as well as emergency preparedness plans and disaster risk reduction in school curricula, improving school infrastructures, developing school DRR kits, developing child protection systems in areas prone to natural disasters and conflict, hygiene awareness, and disaster-related disease outbreak prevention.
Results for children
The first steps are being taken towards a more substantial disaster risk reduction programme in the region:
- Throughout the region, UNICEF is actively engaged in policy dialogue to advocate for a child-focused DRR. To date, 8 countries have created DRR National Platforms.
- Substantial work has been done in promoting disaster risk management through education (safe school buildings, emergency preparedness plans and disaster risk reduction in school curricula), through a global Netherlands grant.
- UNICEF has supported the routine collection of district-level early warning data since the 1990s in Ethiopia, as part of the support to hazards analysis and early warning systems.
- In Kenya, pilot district level vulnerability and capacity assessments are helping to inform emergency and development planning. In addition, to promote recovery and build resilience of the health system and communities, the Nutrition Technical Forum (nutrition cluster), with support from UNICEF, has agreed on a strategy of on-the-job training, in which UNICEF and NGO nutrition partners support government health staff to enhance the quality of nutrition programmes and minimize lost opportunities for nutrition counselling and supplementation.
- UNICEF Namibia (as part of the UN Disaster Management Team) provided technical guidance to the government to formulate the first National Disaster Risk Reduction Plan.
- UNICEF Rwanda supported construction of earthquake-resistant child-friendly schools and health centres.
- Across southern Africa: in partnership with other agencies, UNICEF supported the development of regional cholera preparedness and response plans for flood situations.
- UNICEF Zimbabwe reviewed water, sanitation and hygiene programme to prevent wells and latrines from being destroyed and to reduce likelihood of cholera outbreak.
- UNICEF Madagascar supported the training of education officials on DRR.