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Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is a systematic approach to identifying, assessing and reducing the risks of disaster. It aims to reduce socio-economic vulnerabilities to disaster as well as dealing with the environmental and other hazards that trigger them: Here it has been strongly influenced by the mass of research on vulnerability that has appeared in print since the mid-1970s.[1] It is the responsibility of development and relief agencies alike. It should be an integral part of the way such organisations do their work, not an add-on or one-off action. DRR is very wide-ranging: Its scope is much broader and deeper than conventional emergency management. There is potential for DRR initiatives in just about every sector of development and humanitarian work.

issues and challenges in DRR

It is unrealistic to expect progress in every aspect of DRR: capacities and resources are insufficient. Governments and other organisations have to make what are in effect ‘investment decisions’, choosing which aspects of DRR to invest in, when, and in what sequence. This is made more complicated by the fact that many of the interventions advocated are developmental rather than directly related to disaster management. Most existing DRR guidance sidesteps this issue. One way of focusing is to consider only actions that are intended specifically to reduce disaster risk. This would at least distinguish from more general efforts toward sustainable development. The concept of ‘invulnerable development’ attempts this: In this formulation, invulnerable development is development directed toward reducing vulnerability to disaster, comprising ‘decisions and activities that are intentionally designed and implemented to reduce risk and susceptibility, and also raise resistance and resilience to disaster’.[5]
Partnerships and inter-organisational co-ordination

No single group or organisation can address every aspect of DRR. DRR thinking sees disasters as complex problems demanding a collective response. Co-ordination even in conventional emergency management is difficult, for many organisations may converge on a disaster area to assist. Across the broader spectrum of DRR, the relationships between types of organisation and between sectors (public, private and non-profit, as well as communities) become much more extensive and complex. DRR requires strong vertical and horizontal linkages (central-local relations become important). In terms of involving civil society organisations, it should mean thinking broadly about which types of organisation to involve (i.e., conventional NGOs and such organisations as trades unions, religious institutions, amateur radio operators (as in the USA and India), universities and research institutions).
Communities and their organisations

Traditional emergency management/civil defence thinking makes two misleading assumptions about communities. First, it sees other forms of social organisation (voluntary and community-based organisations, informal social groupings and families) as irrelevant to emergency action. Spontaneous actions by affected communities or groups (e.g., search and rescue) are viewed as irrelevant or disruptive, because they are not controlled by the authorities. The second assumption is that disasters produce passive ‘victims’ who are overwhelmed by crisis or dysfunctional behaviour (panic, looting, self-seeking activities). They therefore need to be told what to do, and their behaviour must be controlled — in extreme cases, through the imposition of martial law. There is plenty of sociological research to refute such 'myths'.[6][7]

An alternative viewpoint, informed by a considerable volume of research, emphasises the importance of communities and local organisations in disaster risk management. The rationale for community-based disaster risk management that it responds to local problems and needs, capitalises on local knowledge and expertise, is cost-effective, improves the likelihood of sustainability through genuine ‘ownership’ of projects, strengthens community technical and organisational capacities, and empowers people by enabling them to tackle these and other challenges. Local people and organisations are the main actors in risk reduction and disaster response in any case.[8]

The DRR approach requires redefining the role of government disaster reduction. It is generally agreed that national governments should be main actors in DRR: They have a duty to ensure the safety of citizens, the resources and capacity to implement large-scale DRR, a mandate to direct or co-ordinate the work of others, and they create the necessary policy and legislative frameworks. These policies and programmes have to be coherent. More research is needed into why some governments are more successful than others in disaster management. There is still no general consensus on what drives changes in policy and practice. The shifting relationship between central government and other actors is another area requiring research.
Accountability and rights

The principle of accountability lies at the heart of genuine partnership and participation in DRR. It applies to state institutions that are expected to be accountable through the democratic process and to private sector and non-profit organizations that are not subject to democratic control. Accountability is an emerging issue in disaster reduction work. Accountability should be primarily toward those who are vulnerable to hazards and affected by them.

Many organisations working in international aid and development are now committing themselves to a ‘rights-based’ approach. This tends to encompass human rights (i.e., those that are generally accepted through international agreements) and other rights that an agency believes should be accepted as human rights. In such contexts, the language of rights may be used vaguely, with a risk of causing confusion. Security against disasters is not generally regarded as a right although it is addressed in some international codes, usually indirectly. The idea of a ‘right to safety’ is being discussed in some circles.
Policy and investment

In a June 2012 study, researchers at the Overseas Development Institute highlighted the need for more focus on disaster risk management (DRM) in the international policy frameworks to be agreed in 2015.[9] Economic costs of disasters are on the rise, but most humanitarian investment is currently spent on responding to disasters, rather than managing their future risks. If this pattern continues, the researchers argue, then "spending on reconstruction and relief will become unsustainable." A more developed evidence base, enhanced political commitment, and dialogue across policy areas will be needed for this mainstreaming of disaster risk management to happen.

External links for more information on Disaster Risk reduction

-Disaster prevention a role for business, Maple Croft                                                                        Download pdf
- Guidance notes on safe school construction, World bank                                                                Download pdf
- Guidance notes on integraing disaser risk reduction into the CCA and NDAF, UNDG                  Download pdf

Schedule for the final assessment for 6th Sem Disaster Management Students