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Charles Chishiri


Tongaat Hulett Zimbabwe Expertise:  Disaster Risk Assessment; Vulnerability and capacity assessment; Business Continuity planning; Emergency management; Emergency response planning; Emergency training and exercising; Coordination of response efforts; Emergency information management; Preparing emergency plans and training; Major incident management.

I am an Emergency Manager and Disaster Risk Practitioner with over seventeen years industrial experience working within the Agro-industrial sectors. Academic qualifications: Advanced University Diploma in Disaster Risk Management - University of the Free State South Africa; Post Graduate Diploma in Disaster and Development Management - National University of Science and Technology Zimbabwe; Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Animal Science, University of Zimbabwe; International certificates in Occupational Health and Safety (National Examinations Board in Occupational Health and Safety, NEBOSH UK)

Disaster risk assessment: Desk top exercise or engagement platform to inform and prioritise disaster risk reduction initiatives?

Read more on the context

QQuestion by Mr Tarik Alsubaie

Dear Mr.Charles,

Greetings from Jordan.

I would like to inquire about the mechanism on how to submit a content in line with Disaster Risk Management.Allow me to draw your kind attention that I was trying to submit my content but couldn't find the link needed. Your help in this regard will be highly appreciated.

Looking forward to receive your kind feedback.

Best Regards


Mr Tarik Alsubaie President | Jordanian Society of Friends of Heritage

APosted on 26 Mar 2018

Good morning Mr Tarik

You are on the right platform. Kindly send your question on this same platform.

Kind regards


QQuestion by Mr Dave Paul Zervaas

Dear Charles, at you will see a Words into Action guide on national risk assessment. In your opinion, does this guide tackle (some of) the problems you mention in your context note? Thanks for your advice.

Mr Dave Paul Zervaas Program Management Officer | UNISDR

APosted on 22 Mar 2018

Good day Mr Zervaas and thank you for the question.
The Words into Action guidelines on National Disaster Risk Assessment 2017 (UNISDR) touches on a number of key fundamentals which I touched on in my contextual note as being key to a successful Risk Assessment process. The guidelines are a good attempt at contributing towards the development of tools and methodologies for Disaster Risk Assessment and for further guidance and creation of partnerships that supports countries in achieving this. Further to this, the guidelines encourage “A holistic Risk Assessment” that considers all relevant hazards and vulnerabilities both direct and indirect impacts and a diagnosis of the sources of risk which will support the design of Policies and investments that are efficient and effective in reducing risk. This is in line with the principle that “A prescription without diagnosis is malpractice –Socrates. It is therefore vital that all sources of risk and vulnerability as well as the associated impacts are identified through the Risk Assessment process and suitable risk mitigation action identified.
Another fundamental that the Words into Action guideline touches on is the integration and embedding of Disaster Risk Assessment into the Culture of Governance and daily work as being key to empowering all sectors with an improved understanding of disaster risk. At the National Level it recommends States to establish a National system for understanding disaster risk and that this system be integrated with related policy and planning mechanisms. The guidelines are a result of the collaboration of over 100 Leading Experts from National Authorities, International organisation, Non-Governmental Organisation, Academia, think tanks and the Private sector. They focus on Sendai Framework’s First Priority for action: - Understanding disaster risk which in essence is the basis for all measures on disaster risk reduction. This collaborative effort is in essence what a truly effective Disaster risk assessment system should be.
The Words into action guide reinforce the concept that a holistic understanding of disaster risk empowers effective and comprehensive disaster risk management. The ten elements that enable success of a Risk assessment process (what I would call key enablers to a successful risk assessment) including governance mechanisms, Policy and technical scoping, a data management plan, required capacities, terms of reference, selection of methodologies, risk analysis, preparing outputs, evaluating and applying the results in Disaster risk management and long term sustainability are outlined in the guidelines. Part one of the guidelines focus on the three stages of the assessment process namely: Preparation and scoping, conducting risk analysis and using the results for disaster risk management and development decisions.
The Words into Action guidelines are therefore a step in the right direction in motivating countries to Establish National systems for understanding disaster risk and to conduct risk assessment that can integrate into their policy and planning mechanisms. As stated in the Guideline and indeed in my contextual note, “The outputs of an effective national disaster risk assessment inform disaster risk reduction efforts, including risk-informed sustainable development strategies, climate change adaptation planning, national disaster risk reduction across all sectors, as well as emergency preparedness and response”.   What are some of the Disaster Risk management policy and planning applications that come out of an effective Disaster Risk Assessment process?  The guidelines outline some of the key outputs to this process which include amongst others:
• Informing national sustainable development plans to avoid creation of new risk, reduce and manage existing risks, build resilience across various sectors and protect new and existing development from hazardous events.
• Informing national disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, including setting risk reduction goals and targets.
• Identifying strengths and gaps in national capacities, and resilience in relation to the risk levels.
• Identifying needs for more detailed sectoral or geographic risk assessments.
• Guiding disaster risk financial management and investment.
• Setting the methodologies and data for real-time prediction of exposure, vulnerability and impact in case of an unfolding disaster for the purpose of response and recovery planning and  
• Supporting public education and awareness activities.
The implementation of national disaster risk assessments that give due consideration to the impact of climate change and to the correlation of disaster risk management with sustainable development creates a powerful platform for communication and collaboration among stakeholders in disaster risk management, climate change adaptation and development. The guidelines further state that in a majority of countries these stakeholders from diverse backgrounds and interests would ordinarily operate in “silos”. Multi-hazard assessments therefore help bring these actors together to study the relative risks of each type of hazard and find common ground for taking effective measures and using resources efficiently through an “all-hazards” approach. The Guideline revealed that for a disaster risk  assessment to be successful, it needs an Inclusive governance mechanism, broad set of technical, financial, and administrative capacities, availability of reliable data and a solid methodology that meet the intended use of risk assessment results. The need for a strong political will to ensure that the outcomes are accessible, understandable and usable for the intended disaster risk management purposes are also outlined. In so doing these guidelines provide a “recipe for success if you will”.
Thank you.


QQuestion by Mr Dave Paul Zervaas

Dear Charles, if risk assessment exercises have failed to inform DRR because they were conducted without due considerations for the community members on the ground (as you explain in the context note); why do you think these exercises do not take this into due account? What do you think could be a solution to this?.Do you have any examples of a more integrative approach we could share? Thanks!

Mr Dave Paul Zervaas Program Management Officer | UNISDR

APosted on 22 Mar 2018

Good day Mr Zervaas and thank you very much for the question.
There are a number of reasons why Disaster Risk assessment exercises fail and I will touch on some of

these in my brief below. Indeed a properly conducted disaster risk assessment process is an iterative

process requiring proper planning, consultation and feedback throughout the cycle. Further, there are a

plethora of Disaster Risk assessments whose objectives and purposes are also very different, requiring a

fairly diverse pool of expertise and the information required to conduct an effective assessment is

normally not centrally located, requiring resources to mobilise both technical and administrative

capacity. The assessment itself is not easy and at times the technical capacity for coordinating them is

simply not available.  Inadequate planning and communication and a lack of alignment between the risk

assessment process and the strategic activities of the various Departments and stakeholders also

presents its own challenges. In some instances ineffective risk prioritization criteria are used thereby

defeating the ultimate objective of the assessment. Some risk assessments are conducted far from the

actual community that is affected by the typical hazards and in certain instances there is a lengthy lapse

in time between the initial hazard identification exercise to the risk analysis processes. The failure to

communicate and validate findings to gain alignment on identified key risks with the community is also

one of the key shortfalls. The assessment itself should not be viewed as the end of the risk management

process as this often leads to the premature failure of the risk mitigation programme.
A more integrative approach to Disaster Risk assessment is outlined in the International Standard on

Risk Management (ISO 31000:2009) and in fact a new standard (ISO 31000:2018) has recently been

promulgated. The new version of ISO 31000 was published on the 15th February 2018. The process flow

outlined on: should be viewed.
The process starts with setting the context of the risk assessment and consists of three main steps

Risk identification, Risk analysis and Risk evaluation.
Establishing context means understanding the risk management context in order to define the purpose

and scope of the risk assessment. During this time stakeholders are consulted and engaged and criteria

for decision making is set. This compliments well with the ‘Words into Action” guidelines Element 1

which is complimented with Policy and Technical scoping in element 2.
Risk identification: In terms of the National disaster risk assessment perspective, this step is concerned

with a high-level scoping of hazard, exposure and vulnerabilities to define the direction for the rest of the

assessment process. This step relies on the knowledge and experience of stakeholders, data on past

disasters and risk information to draw initial conclusions about the importance of a specific hazard,

assets, known vulnerabilities and major impacts of concern. Consideration for both extensive (frequent,

low impact events) and intensive (occasional, high-impact) events, as well as any potential cascading

events. In the Words into Action Guidelines, disaster risk identification starts in element 2 and is

completed with more technical depth in element 6. 
Risk analysis: In this step a detailed understanding of the disaster risk is sought, including detailed

hazard analysis, exposure analysis, vulnerability and capacity analysis. It provides insight into the

interaction of a single hazard or a multi-hazard with the exposure and all dimensions of vulnerabilities. 

The risk analysis also reviews and evaluates the effectiveness of the existing capacities (termed control

measures under ISO: 31010). This is critical in identifying targeted measures to manage the risk. It also

assesses the level of certainty or “confidence level” with regards to current capacities and controls in

place. This section is covered in elements 6 and 7 of the Words into Action guidelines. 
Risk evaluation: It allows for risks to be prioritized for purposes of managing. The multi-hazard disaster

risks analysed for likelihood and impact are presented in various ways to facilitate visualization and

prioritization. Risk prioritization is adjusted based on the understanding of capacities, risk perception

and risk acceptance of the stakeholders and the availability and level of resources to manage the risks.

At this stage of the assessment input from those owning the risk who will ultimately be responsible for

disaster risk reduction should be sought.
At the end of the day, all stakeholders should be represented through coordination and communication

mechanisms that help define the priority disaster risks. Thereafter, there would then be a legitimate basis

for disaster risk prioritization. The society can now state the risks of high importance that require

immediate attention, those that could be tolerated or neglected, and the risks that need to be closely

monitored. This process is covered in elements 8 and 9 of the Words into Action guideline.