4 July 2017

The importance of disaster risk governance for the implementation of the SFDRR

Author(s) Fadi Hamdan, Disaster Risk Management Centre

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (SFDRR) highlights the need for collating human and economic disaster losses by the year 2020, using pre-determined methodologies agreed upon by various stakeholders and sectors.  Having established a baseline for losses, the SFDRR calls for setting targets for loss reduction and indicators for measuring progress between 2020 and 2030.  Furthermore, the establishment of a baseline for losses, and their regular monitoring would allow local and national governments to 1) understand linkages between disaster losses and sustainable development and climate change, and 2) develop interventions that can reduce risk, and contribute to sustainable development while accounting for climate change adaptation and mitigation considerations.  Setting up multi stakeholders, multi-sectoral national platforms for Disaster Risk Management (DRM) can act as a forum for various stakeholders to carry out interdisciplinary work related to disaster loss collation and analysis.  The importance of national platforms for DRM has also been recognised and called for by the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), albeit with limited success particularly in many low and middle-income countries.

Indeed while there is unanimous agreement within the DRM community on the need to develop national DRM platforms, the challenge remains in identifying tangible, practical steps that can be taken to create such platforms.  To this end, the following steps are proposed:

  1. Ensure that the agenda of such a platform reflects the priorities of various sectors and stakeholders, and thus ensure ownership for such a multi-disciplinary, multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholder approach. 
  2. Direct efforts to improve our understanding of the impact of risk governance on the success of DRM efforts, and use this understanding to empower those suffering disproportionately from weak risk governance to lobby for improved risk governance through the adoptions of national multi sectoral and multi-stakeholder platforms. 
  3. Raise awareness on the potential for such platforms to discuss in a participatory manner, and take decisions in an accountable manner, on a number of crucial issues affecting many stakeholders and wider segments of the population.  These decisions could include
  4. Extensive risk: it is well established that extensive risk losses disproportionately affects poorer households and communities in rural and urban areas leaving them more vulnerable to intensive risk.  A national platform where decisions are taken in a participatory and accountable manner would hence enhance accountability on any decisions to ignore extensive risk losses during disaster loss collation.  This could also extend to the issue of adopting best DRM practices including i) disaggregating damaged and destroyed housing and infrastructure, ii) indirect economic effects, and iii) disruptions to basic services.
  5. Disaggregated data to link to SDG: the need and the opportunity to link DRM, sustainable development and climate change adaptation efforts is recognized by most stakeholders.  However, this often faces the difficulty that SDG, climate change and DRM data are localized and for any meaningful linkage to take place there is a need to measure their respective indicators in a localized manner.  For example, abstaining from measuring data, including loss data, at the localised (sub-district or neighbourhood) level, prevents any meaningful linkages between disaster losses on the one hand and poverty and inequality on the other hand.  A national platform where such decisions are taken in a transparent, participatory and accountable manner would significantly enhance accountability against such risk governance deficits.
  6. Existing risk:  The review of the implementation of the HFA, in most regions of the world, recognised the need to strengthen efforts to reduce existing risk using corrective risk management strategies, in addition to less costly efforts to prevent new risk using prospective disaster risk management strategies.  Yet more often than not, limited effort is directed at reducing existing risk, often citing cost benefit considerations.  However, subsequent Global Assessment Reports have shown that reducing existing risk is extremely cost effective when targeting the most vulnerable quintile of households, infrastructure networks and communities.  A participatory approach where all stakeholders are represented in the decision making process would ensure that a rational approach would be adopted that balances between reducing existing risk and preventing new risk. 

The adoption of national DRM platform is the surest way to ensure that the distribution of benefits arising from the use of natural resources viz-a-viz the distribution of exposure, vulnerabilities, risk and losses is not too disproportionate and does not disproportionately disadvantage any group pf people whether based on age, gender, ethnicity, religion, income, wealth or other socio economic backgrounds.  Indeed, good risk governance practices not only become possible through national DRM platforms, they become inevitable as risk management decisions are taken in a collective manner where all stakeholders are participating in the decision making processes for reducing existing risk, preventing new risk and managing residual risks.

Finally, it should be recognised by all that the push for having inclusive and collective risk governance practices, using national DRM platforms, is more likely to take place when there is more lobbying from the people for transparent, participatory and accountable risk governance where decision-making can be scrutinized and decision makers can be held accountable.  An important task of various DRM stakeholders is to generate the knowledge and the analysis that will empower the people to view good governance DRM practices as a basic right, and to demand the fulfilment of this right.  

Fadi has extensive experience in Disaster Risk Management and Risk Governance as per international codes, guidelines and recommendations, for a variety of natural hazards including floods, storms, earthquakes, landslides, drought and tsunamis. This knowledge includes the incorporation of risk reduction and risk management considerations into the development process, and the assessment of the vulnerability of cities to disaster risk (including social, economic, institutional, natural and physical factors contributing to vulnerability).

Fadi also has experience in the resilience assessment and development of urban resilience plans for cities with different socio-economic and political economy realities. In all these plans, linkages are made with the challenges of sustainable development related to poverty, inequality, climate change and other shocks and stresses, employment, financing infrastructure, and water, food and energy security amongst others.

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