Reducing disaster risks in Kenya, Sierra Leone and Indonesia

Source(s): Catholic Organization for Relief and Development Aid

October 13th is the International Day for Disaster Reduction. A good occasion to share some of Cordaid’s efforts to reduce disaster risks in Kenya, Sierra Leone and Indonesia. And to advocate for better resilience of marginalized communities against disasters.

Worldwide the cost of natural disasters has risen significantly since 2000. And climate change only exacerbates the damage disasters do, especially to marginalized communities. Large disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes affect many people. But at local level there are many smaller disasters that do not make the news yet can be equally devastating. Like floods that damage houses and crops. Or prolonged droughts that affect livelihoods and community dynamics.

Preventing or mitigating the effects of hazards saves lives, but also a lot of money. If you can  mitigate the damage caused by a hazard, less emergency relief is needed afterwards. That’s why Cordaid supports people who are affected most by hazards to become more resilient. And to take back control of their own lives and livelihoods.

The following three cases of Cordaid’s resilience efforts to reduce disaster risks, show how we do that.

Assuring pastoralist access to game reserves in Kenya

The Buffalo Springs and Shaba game reserves are large parks in Isiolo, Kenya. Due to mismanagement the animal populations have been steadily decreasing, the environment has been degrading, and revenue has gone down. To solve this the County Council decided to lease the parks to private holders, African Parks ltd. of South Africa. However, this would enable African Parks to restrict access of pastoralists who depend on the park’s pastures during drought. This restriction would cause loss of cattle and livelihoods. It would also aggravate conflict in this period of prolonged drought Kenya is facing. There was also no public participation in the handover process, which is required by law in Kenya.

"The need to manage the Parks was a priority but the process followed was a suspect-there has been no public participation which is a basic requirement. We must get it right from the onset" - Councillor Dabaso Halkano

Cordaid’s implementing partner, MID-P, helped to set up a consortium called FIGARE, which enables citizens to advocate more anonymously and without fear of prosecution. MID-P linked this consortium to the media to create awareness, strengthened their capacity to engage and to develop an action plan.

As a result, the governor of Isiolo has dropped his plans to place the management of the parks under a private firm. The future of the parks will now follow with a participatory process to enable the community to be heard in every step.

More about this project.

Reshaping neighbourhoods in Jakarta 

Marunda is a frequently flooded neighbourhood in Jakarta with local inhabitants that live in shacks, lacking even the most basic facilities. Many of them cannot afford rent and floodings cut them off from places where they previously made a living.

With the community and the local government Cordaid identified four solutions to the flooding hazard:

  • Create a multi-stakeholders platform for the community to participate in Marunda development plan;
  • Increase the community capacity in minimizing flood risks through mapping;
  • Increase community livelihood through urban farming;
  • Promote behaviour changes in hygiene and sanitation.

With our implementing partner Karina we addressed all four issues. We were instrumental in setting up the Marunda Urban Resilience in Action (MURIA) multi-stakeholder platform. It consists of locals from the Marunda community, the private sector, government and non-government organizations. The platform made the community a determiner party and facilitates discussion and planning among all members.

The digital mapping of Marunda area was supported by Humanitarian Open StreetMap Team. Slum dwellers, many of them women, were trained to geographically map their neighbourhoods street by street. They can now show the government how and where they live, that electricity and drinking water are lacking, and how many times their houses are flooded.

"It’s amazing to see how people who were invisible for the government are now shaping their neighbourhood and tackling flood risks together with the government" - Harma Rademaker, Resilience expert Cordaid

Local fishermen and newcomers alike suffer from job insecurity and have a hard time feeding their families. The urban gardening project provides food as well as an income, offering quick wins to overcome livelihood problems. It also invited the community to start managing the environment.

800 families were trained to improve their often-appalling sanitation and hygiene situation at home. And to hold city officials accountable when they spot cases of bad waste management in their own streets. To provide safe drinking water, in the absence of tap water infrastructure, Cordaid setup rain water harvesting initiatives in Marunda. Families are now collecting and filtering rain water and can quickly and easily test whether it’s safe to drink.

As a result of the urban farming implementation, the MURIA platform gained trust from the Capital Region of Jakarta Province. It was invited to help create Jakarta’s Urban Farming Grand Design. The Grand Design will scale up the platform and urban farms into greater Jakarta over the next 13 years. This project continues to receive international recognition and has received funding by the Ford Foundation for its next phase. It will continue until December 2019.

More about this project.

First time in 15 years: No disasters in Freetown catchment area

Vulnerable urban communities in Freetown are at risk of numerous hazards. Among them are floods, landslides, epidemics and fire-outbreaks. Residents of these vulnerable communities do not have the means or the capacities to respond effectively to these hazards and risks. Most communities have a Community Disaster Management Committees (CDMC) which is Cordaid’s entry point.

"Nobody died during 2018 rainy season. The Freetown mayor officially thanked all of us for that."

In 2018 Cordaid started its Freetown Urban Resilience and Disaster Risk Reduction project. It is designed to address an increasing need to strengthen community capacity to recognize risks and identify resilience solutions to prevent, withstand, and recover from natural disasters.

Together with CRS, the Freetown City Council and the Federation of the Urban & Rural Poor, Cordaid increases the resiliency of at least one urban catchment (watershed) area, including 10 communities. The objective is to increase household and community resilience capacity over 3 years.

The project began last summer. NGO’s, municipality, government and public services came together to design a Flood Mitigation Strategy Forum. Part of the forum organised a rapid 6-day training course on risk mapping and community action planning for 20 communities. Partially due to that, for the first time in 15 years, no disasters happened in that catchment area. And nobody died during 2018 rainy season. The Freetown mayor officially thanked all of us for that.

The International Day for Disaster Reduction

The International Day for Disaster Reduction was started in 1989, after a call by the United Nations General Assembly for a day to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction. Held every October 13th, the day celebrates how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to hazards and raising awareness about the importance of reining in the disaster risks that they face.

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