IFRC calls for vulnerable communities to remain centre stage in negotiations on post-2015 disaster risk reduction framework

Publié: 17 mars 2015 12:00 CET

By Patrick Fuller, IFRC

As negotiations continue at the World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR) in Sendai, Japan, on key elements of the post-2015 global framework for disaster risk reduction, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) urged participants to keep vulnerable communities at the forefront of their deliberations.

“The new framework must maintain coherence across sustainable development, climate change and disaster risk reduction policies, plans and programmes. This will ensure that communities are better equipped to build their own resilience to cope with future hazards,” said Jagan Chapagain, IFRC’s Asia Pacific Director. “The framework must set ambitious global targets, including a focus on accountability to – and participation of – those people most exposed to disaster risks.”

Representatives of 42 National Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies from around the world have been actively engaged in a wide range of working sessions and side events at the WCDRR, ensuring that the goal of building community resilience is central to the conference outcomes.

A side event convened by the IFRC called ‘Enhancing community resilience and safety through integrated disaster preparedness and risk reduction’ brought together different voices from National Societies and UN agencies. Dr Muinde James Misai, Deputy Secretary General of the Kenya Red Cross Society, highlighted the ‘Partners for Resilience’ project that is supporting drought- and flood-prone communities in Isiolo, a region of northern Kenya. “Local communities understand the risks they face, our role was to help them to organize and diversify their livelihoods,” he said. The project forged partnerships between communities and humanitarian, development and environmental organizations. “It enabled the Red Cross to access resources to go way beyond our capacity,” said Dr Misai. “We also capitalized on the huge penetration of mobile phone technology in Kenya and developed an SMS system for issuing early warnings via text message.”

Dominique Burgeon, Director of FAO's Emergency and Rehabilitation Division, explained how agriculture accounts for at least 22 per cent of disaster losses. “2.5 billion smallholders generate half of the current global food production. They are most vulnerable to the impacts of disasters. A multi-hazard approach is needed and risk assessment must be mainstreamed at a policy level across different sectors,” he said.

Richard Dictus, Executive Coordinator of the United Nations Volunteers (UNV) programme highlighted the long term role played by volunteers in building resilience. “Volunteers play a critical role after disasters helping people to overcome trauma and function again as communities. Every dollar spent on properly organising and managing volunteers and giving them the skills and tools to do the job creates a value of $5 in the creation of community assets and social capital.”

Terry Cannon, Editor of the 2014 World Disasters Report 2014 – Focus on culture and risk, spoke about how people’s culture; their beliefs, values and behaviours, determine how they perceive and respond to risk.

“Culture must not be ignored in disaster risk reduction. Beliefs affect people’s exposure to risk and vulnerability,” he said. “International organizations also need to have a better understanding of the notion of the internal divisions that may exist in communities where gender, caste, class, ethnicity, religion and age can drive vulnerability.”