The Hyogo Framework for Action on Disaster Risk Reduction (HFA) has provided critical guidance to reduce disaster risk. Its implementation has, however, highlighted gaps in addressing the underlying risk factors and effectively safeguarding communities. Evidence at the local level indicates that impacts are increasing. This is due to policies and plans not adequately addressing the reality on the ground. In particular, this includes the constant threat of small-scale, recurrent, localized disasters. However, these disasters are largely unacknowledged and unrecorded, leaving communities to fend for themselves. Both intensive and smaller-scale, chronic disasters can wipe out development gains and trap people in cycles of poverty that erode their ability to cope. Further, their impacts disproportionately affect marginalized groups including the poor, children, people with disabilities, women, the elderly, and indigenous groups.
In order to build on the successes of the HFA and address its shortcomings, the Post-2015 Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Framework must work to address reality at the local level. The new framework calls for actors to identify their roles in implementation. Below, we outline the commitments that governments should make and that we as civil society organizations (CSOs) will make to ensure that policies are translated into meaningful solutions at the local level. This will involve working together with governments and other stakeholders.
Three Recommendations and 10 Essentials
1. Empower local communities to manage disaster risk
Local communities are the everyday heroes who tackle small-scale, recurrent disasters that never make the news. They have rich knowledge of the risks they face and, if empowered, the capacities to deal with them. One of the weaknesses of the HFA was its failure to empower local communities with the tools, decision-making power, and technical and financial capacity to manage both large-scale and everyday risks. The draft of the new Post-2015 DRR Framework recognizes the need for inclusivity and the importance of ensuring the participation of the most at-risk sectors of society such as women, children, the elderly, and people with disabilities. Implementation of the new framework must go further to recognise the lessons learned from the HFA by promoting a people-centred and human rights-based approach, and by empowering at-risk communities as active decision-makers and managers of risk.
Governments should commit to:
● Creating and strengthening platforms and other governance arrangements that engage local government officials and communities as decision-makers
● Providing a percentage of their DRR budgets directly to local governments for community-led DRR projects
● Utilising data from local level participatory risk profiles to inform more appropriate DRR strategies
● Enforcing the implementation of inclusive national laws, policies, and frameworks on DRR at the local level
CSOs will commit to:
● Mobilising the most at-risk communities and ensuring that they are fully engaged in multi-stakeholder decision-making platforms and budgeting mechanisms
● Undertaking and sharing local level, participatory disaster risk profiling that reflects the perspectives of those who are directly exposed
1 57% of people feel disaster losses have increased, according to Views from the Frontline 2011, a study of local level perspectives of risk and resilience.
2 90% of disasters prioritised by respondents are small scale, recurrent disasters according to Frontline, a new study conducted by GNDR in Latin America, which asked communities about their perceptions of the threats they face.
2. Enhance accountability
If the Post-2015 DRR Framework is to have an impact, it must measure real progress at the local level so that strategies can be well informed. This requires adequate monitoring mechanisms, appropriate national targets and local indicators, and clear roles and responsibilities.
Governments should commit to:
● Setting ambitious, achievable, and measurable national targets and local indicators with corresponding roles and responsibilities for national and local actors
● Using data that is disaggregated by sex and age and collected at the local level to inform appropriate and targeted DRR strategies which effectively respond to the needs of those most at-risk
● Establishing financial monitoring mechanisms to ensure transparency in resource allocation
CSOs will commit to:
● Raising public awareness of institutional and individual roles, responsibilities, and rights
● Assisting in the development and implementation of local level participatory monitoring mechanisms
● Participating in the development of locally-appropriate quality standards for structural and non-structural resilience measures
3. Make DRR a development and humanitarian priority
Disasters continue to hamper economic growth and increase poverty levels. Development as well as humanitarian interventions, whether they be part of disaster response, recovery, or reconstruction, present opportunities to build resilience to future disasters. Yet DRR has had little ownership outside of the disaster risk management field. Links must be created between humanitarian, development, and climate change agendas to address underlying risk factors. This should be characterized by multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary approaches.
Governments, donors, and other stakeholders should commit to:
● Integrating DRR across all relevant humanitarian and development sectors (e.g., water and sanitation, agriculture and food security, education, health, urban planning, shelter and settlements) and incorporating resilience lessons into longer-term policies, practices, and funding mechanisms
● Aligning national objectives, indicators, and monitoring mechanisms across all Post-2015 Frameworks including those for development, DRR, and climate change adaptation
● Developing and resourcing DRR measures that are sensitive to risks in fragile, insecure, and conflict-affected communities
CSOs will commit to:
● Sharing local risk knowledge and technical expertise to ensure that resilience is at the centre of approaches taken by all actors (e.g., by governments conducting land use planning, by the private sector in conducting business continuity planning)
● Providing DRR training to, and building the capacity of, those engaged in development, climate change adaptation, and humanitarian activities
Working together for impact at the frontline – 10 essentials
We must continuously strive towards having an impact on the lives and livelihoods of the people living at the frontline, who are affected by small-scale recurrent disasters and interrelated risks compounded by insecurity, poverty, and informality. We can achieve impacts where it matters by collaborating on all of these activities and fulfilling our commitments mentioned above. Below we provide a list of 10 essentials to help guide local level impact that cut across all activities.
Together, we can enhance real impact at the local level if we:
1. Understand local perspectives of risk
Listen and understand the experiences of people most at risk
2. Consider the local context
Recognise the real life challenges of fragility, insecurity, and informality
3. Leave no one behind
Ensure the inclusion of all groups, particularly those most at risk
Work with and across all groups and levels
5. Mobilise local resources
Build on existing capacities, knowledge and other sources of resilience
6. Align across policies
Ensure coherence across humanitarian, recovery, development and climate change adaptation
7. Hold people to account
Ensure accountability to local communities
8. Learn from the past and look to the future
Learn lessons and recognise future trends to inform recovery and development planning
9. Be environmentally aware
Recognise, protect and strengthen the functions of ecosystems
10. Recognise the potential of civil society
Actively work with civil society to achieve these essentials
InterAction is the largest coalition of U.S-based NGOs focused on the world’s most poor and vulnerable populations, with more than 190 members working in every developing country. The DRR WG works to promote DRR mainstreaming among its membership and the broader global humanitarian and development communities.
The Global Network of Civil Society Organisations for Disaster Reduction is the largest international network of organisations committed to working together to improve the lives of people affected by disasters worldwide. The network has over 1200 members in 129 countries.
VOICE (Voluntary Organisations in Cooperation in Emergencies) is a network of 82 European humanitarian NGOs, is the main NGO interlocutor with the European Union on emergency aid, relief, rehabilitation and DRR. The VOICE DRR Working Group contributes to improving EU policy and practice on DRR, with particular reference to the UN international policy.
French NGO Network for DRR brings together CARE France, Solidarités International, Action contre la faim (ACF), French Red Cross and Handicap International, with the aim of improving DRR practices through knowledge and resources sharing and building a common strategy to influence national and international policy makers and civil society.
Bond is the network of UK based NGOs working in international development seeking to foster greater collaboration on issues such as training, advocacy and fund raising, with over 440 individual members. The Bond DRR WG works to deliver effective DRR programmes and aims are to share good practice and contribute to and monitor global DRR debates.
The ACT Alliance is a coalition of more than 140 churches and affiliated organisations – 75% from the Global South - working together in over 140 countries to create positive and sustainable change in the lives of poor and marginalised people. The Alliance, supported by 25,000 staff, mobilises $1.5 billion a year for humanitarian aid, development, and advocacy, and promotes community resilience.
The Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) unites Australia’s non-government aid and international development organisations to strengthen their collective impact against poverty. The ACFID DRR WG serves as a coordination platform for Australian NGOs and promotes information sharing, learning and policy development and advocacy.
The Canadian Council for International Cooperation (CCIC) is a coalition of 75 voluntary sector organizations working globally to achieve sustainable human development. CCIC seeks to end global poverty, and to promote social justice and human dignity for all.