Emergency Preparedness and Response


Core Commitments for Children (CCCs)

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)

Resilience building


Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)

© UNICEF/NYHQ2010-0394/Hyun
A girl carries her baby brother in a camp established for people displaced by mudslides, Uganda.

As they are in many other parts of the world, natural hazards such as drought, storms and floods are a regular part of life in Eastern and Southern Africa. But hazards become disasters only when people’s 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 that may occur in a particular community or society. And it is the poor and marginalized who are most at risk.

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) aims to identify, assess and reduce those risks. It targets the national, sub-national, and, in particular, the community level, where people often face risk and know best how to prevent or reduce it. DRR calls for governments, civil society, the private sector, and other actors to partner with the most vulnerable people to help prevent hazardous 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. Its core programmes in the areas of health; nutrition; water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH); education; child protection; and HIV/AIDS provide the ideal instruments to prepare for, prevent and mitigate disaster risk.

UNICEF-supported DRR programming is in-line with the international Hyogo Framework for Action (2005-2015), and is focused on four principal areas:

  1. DRR for children and women is a national and local priority;

  2. different risks faced by girls, boys and women are identified and addressed;

  3. safer and more resilient conditions for girls, boys and women; and

  4. strengthened humanitarian preparedness, response and recovery through capacity development.

In Eastern and Southern Africa, such efforts now include, for example, support to the construction of safe school buildings, as well as emergency preparedness plans and disaster risk reduction in school curricula, developing child protection systems in areas prone to natural hazard and conflict, hygiene awareness, and disaster-related disease outbreak prevention.

Results for children

  • Throughout the region, UNICEF is actively engaged in policy dialogue to advocate for a child-focused DRR. To date, eight countries have created DRR National Platforms. 

  • Substantial work has been done in promoting disaster risk management through education, including safe school buildings, emergency preparedness plans and DRR in school curricula, with 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 vulnerability and capacity assessments at district level have been conducted to inform emergency and development planning.

  • In Namibia, UNICEF provided technical guidance to the government to formulate the first National Disaster Risk Reduction Plan. 

  • In Rwanda and Madagascar, UNICEF 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.





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