Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction 2015
Making development sustainable: The future of disaster risk management

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Part II - Chapter 8
successes, for example the major reduction in mortality following Cyclone Phailin in Odisha, India in 2013 compared to the super-cyclone of 1999. While much of this success should be attributed to improving development indicators, it is disaster preparedness that has been able to capitalize on the political gains.
No bed of roses
At the same time, disaster preparedness is no bed of roses. HFA progress reports highlight that some low-income countries remain challenged to create and sustain the necessary capacities. For example, Indonesia reports that a major challenge in enhancing preparedness measures is the lack of resources, including human resources, expertise, budgets, equipment and facilities, at the local level coupled with continued dependency on the national level for preparedness planning (UNISDR, 2014a

UNISDR. 2014a,Progress and Challenges in Disaster Risk Reduction: A contribution towards the development of policy indicators for the Post-2015 Framework on Disaster Risk Reduction, Geneva, Switzerland: UNISDR.. .
In effect, in some countries mortality risk remains high, as was tragically highlighted in Myanmar in 2008. The capacity gap is often even greater in countries experiencing military or civil conflict. In addition, as the example of Hurricane Katrina demonstrated, capacities may not be as strong as they seem, even in the world’s richest countries.
The foundation for effective disaster preparedness and response is laid at the local level. Wellprepared localities can often significantly reduce their disaster losses, even if national level emergency management structures collapse or fail to respond. In contrast, even the best-organized disaster management at the national-level may be ineffective if local preparedness capacities are weak or non-existent. As discussed in Chapter 6, local capacities tend to be uneven, as they are stronger in larger urban centres with strong city governments and weaker in remote and rural areas.
More fundamentally, an extensive body of literature (Quarantelli, 1986

Quarantelli, Enrico Louis. 1986,Disaster Crisis Management, Preliminary Paper #113. Disaster Research Center, University of Delaware.. .
; Yodmani, 2001

Yodmani, Suvit. 2001,Disaster Risk Management and Vulnerability Reduction: Protecting the Poor, Paper Presented at The Asia and Pacific Forum on Poverty Organized by the Asian Development Bank.. .
; Pandey
and Okazaki, 2005) has demonstrated how vertically integrated contingency plans and response mechanisms often seem to respond more to the command and control culture of emergency management and to preconceptions regarding response than to expressed needs and requirements on the ground. Preparedness plans and response may reflect ingrained prejudices and stereotypes regarding the affected population (Tierney, 2008

Tierney, Kathleen. 2008,Hurricane Katrina: Catastrophic Impacts and Alarming Lessons, Ch. 7. In Risking House and Home: Disasters, Cities, Public Policy, John M. Quigley, and Larry A. Rosenthal, eds. Berkeley, California: Berkeley Public Policy Press. Institute of Governmental Studies Publications.. .
) or fail to account for the specificities and complexity of local risk scenarios or local strategies for managing risk (GAR 13 paperIASC-WFP, 2014

GAR13 Reference IASC-WFP (Inter-Agency Standing Committee and World Food Programme). 2014,Preparedness action in present and future context, lessons learned and to be learned, Background Paper prepared for the 2015 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction. Geneva, Switzerland: UNISDR..
Click here to view this GAR paper.
). As a result, disaster response may have unintended or negative consequences at the local level.
Often disasters themselves become simulacra, events configured and magnified by the media and by pre-existing stereotypes and conceptions rather than by what is happening in reality. For example, in the case of Hurricane Mitch in Honduras in 1998, while the international media portrayed the total destruction of the entire country, in reality most damage was concentrated in only a few municipalities (UNISDR, 2011a

UNISDR. 2011a,Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction: Revealing Risk, Redefining Development, Geneva, Switzerland: UNISDR.. .
). In the case of the mudslides in Vargas State, Venezuela in 1999, it was found that a reported death toll of over 30,000 in reality did not exceed 700 (UNISDR, 2009a

UNISDR. 2009a,Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction: Risk and Poverty in a Changing Climate, Geneva, Switzerland: UNISDR.. .
). Disaster response (Box 8.8) often fails to understand or respond to local requirements and needs precisely because it responds to a simulacrum of disaster rather than to real local conditions (Maskrey, 1996

Maskrey, Andrew. 1996,Terremotos en el trópico húmedo, La gestión de los desastres del Alto Mayo, Perú (1990 y 1991), Limón, Costa Rica (1991) y Atrato Medio, Colombia (1992). LA RED: Red de Estudios Sociales en Prevención de Desastres en América Latina. Colombia.. .
Preparedness plans may often exist to deal with infrequent intensive risks while ignoring recurrent local extensive risks. The fact that the volume of response and support to disaster-affected localities tends to be proportional to the number of fatalities rather than the number of survivors is one visible reflection of this mismatch. Preparedness plans supported by NGOs using mechanisms such as VCAs (vulnerability and capacity assessments) are often more sensitive to local needs and strategies. However, they are often developed in the context of
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