Established in 1951, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) is the leading intergovernmental organization in the field of migration and is committed to the principle that humane and orderly migration benefits migrants and society. IOM works with its partners in the international community to assist in meeting the growing operational challenges of migration, advance understanding of migration issues, encourage social and economic development through migration and uphold the well-being and human rights of migrants.
There are today at least 244 million people on the move across borders worldwide, and another 740 million people moving internally within countries. Mobility, when dignified and properly managed, can bring important benefits for migrants seeking opportunities and a better life. It is also recognized that mobility can make significant, and often overlooked, social and economic contributions to communities and States of origin, transit and destination.
In the period 2008-2015, however, an average of 26.4 million people each year were uprooted by disasters , triggered by natural hazards. Such hazards are increasingly caused or magnified by climatic and environmental change factors, and the compounding effects of fast-paced urbanization, population growth and rising inequalities. Beyond the direct human, material and environmental costs on affected communities and countries, disasters frequently result in large-scale movements of populations which can lead to reduced access to basic services and livelihood options, and increased exposure to violence, poverty and insecurity for both the displaced populations and their host communities.
Further, data shows that disasters and environmental degradation have potential to fuel conflict and fragility, reverse development gains, and hamper progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially for least developed countries, landlocked developing countries and small island developing states. As environmental degradation and climate change are expected to increase the frequency and intensity of sudden-onset hazards, and to worsen the impacts of slow-onset hazards, the ramifications on human mobility are projected to be significant.
In the context of disaster, mobility is principally understood as a negative impact that can give rise to new risks and vulnerabilities for people on the move. While this can and often is the case, IOM has highlighted the direct importance of mobility decisions in reducing risk and promoting resilience, and the conditions of extreme vulnerability that are associated with ‘trapped populations’ who are unable to move out of harm’s way, or invest in alternative livelihood strategies amidst environment and climatic change pressures.
IOM as the global migration agency brings a unique perspective and operational comparative advantage to DRR and resilience given the intrinsic links between mobility, risk and resilience. IOM is also highly operational, with the ability to connect directly with beneficiary groups, understanding their particular needs and capacities and at the same time aligning with national frameworks and priorities. Guided by its migration governance policies at the global level, and working at the request of its Member States, the Organization’s DRR and resilience-based work benefits from longstanding operational experiences managing mobility in various complex crisis environments over the past decades, currently working at the field level through a network of 400 offices worldwide. Over the years, IOM has developed a unique contextual and strategic analysis and data collection capacity on the nexus of crisis and mobility.
At the planning level, DRR and resilience constitute a core sector of assistance in the Organization’s institution-wide Migration Crisis Operational Framework (MCOF) . Through MCOF, IOM incorporates risk and resilience into country-specific strategic planning processes and resource mobilization efforts, reflecting the strategic relevance of this area of work for IOM in addressing the mobility dimensions of crisis.
Disaster Reduction Goal
IOM’s mission on DRR and resilience is:
To assist Member States to implement the priorities of the Sendai Framework by advancing mobility-based strategies in disaster risk reduction and resilience.
IOM’s objectives are fourfold:
- To reduce disaster-induced displacement by harnessing the dimensions of mobility in prevention and preparedness;
- To mitigate the impacts of displacement through risk-informed response;
- To strengthen resilience by building back better in recovery and reconstruction;
- To expand and strengthen partnerships to support integration of mobility in global risk reduction efforts.
Policies and Programmes in DRR
IOM Strategic Outcomes:
Strategic Outcome I: Reduced risk exposure to disaster-induced displacement through effective disaster prevention (PREVENTION)
- Countries supported with hazard mapping and multi-hazard risk assessments
- Countries supported with community-based disaster risk management (structural and non-structural measures)
- Countries supported with planned relocation assistance
- Countries supported with resilient livelihoods development that incorporate mobility/adaptation and/or diversification strategies
- Countries supported with improved early warning systems
- Countries supported with disaster risk reduction strategies/action plans linked with institutional capacity-strengthening
Strategic Outcome II: Improved capacity of States and communities to effectively anticipate, respond to, and recover from, the mobility consequences of disasters through strengthened disaster preparedness (PREPAREDNESS)
- Countries supported with preparedness for disaster events
- Countries supported to include migrants in disaster preparedness, response and recovery
- Countries supported with preparedness planning for mass evacuation (MEND)
- Countries supported with preparedness planning for Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM)
- Countries supported with preparedness planning for displacement tracking capacity
Strategic Outcome III: Rapid, effective and risk-informed emergency response that addresses the immediate needs of disaster-affected populations on the move, as well as secondary risks generated as a result of prolonged displacement (RESPONSE)
- Countries supported with emergency evacuation and transportation assistance
- Countries supported with hazard-resilient emergency shelter and settlement planning assistance
- Countries supported with risk-informed Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM)
- Countries supported with hazard-sensitive displacement tracking and data collection (DTM)
Strategic Outcome IV: Improved disaster resilience in recovery and reconstruction (RECOVERY)
- Countries supported with disaster-resilient transitional shelter and/or housing
- Countries supported with hazard-resilient community infrastructure and services restoration
- Countries supported with debris removal and/or infrastructure repairs linked with cash-for-work opportunities
- Countries supported with sustainable livelihoods recovery that incorporate mobility/adaptation and/or diversification elements
- Countries supported to "build back better" through diaspora investment and skills transfers
Strategic Outcome V: Expanded and strengthened partnerships to promote integration of mobility in efforts to reduce risk and build resilience (PARTNERSHIPS)
- Dialogue initiatives on mobility, risk, resilience with Member States supported at global level
- ISDR initiatives supported at global level
- IASC task teams / reference groups supported with contributions at global level
- UNDAF that reflect mobility, risk and resilience supported at country-level
- CADRI initiatives supported at country-level
- Preparedness partnerships supported at country-level
- PDD initiatives on reducing risk of cross-border disaster displacement supported at country level
- Partnerships on migrants in DRR supported at country-level
The beneficiaries of IOM’s DRR programme are individuals, households and communities that are vulnerable to displacement resulting from disaster.
Beneficiaries will additionally include the following groups:
- Persons displaced by disasters within their country (internally displaced persons, IDPs);
- Persons displaced across borders following a disaster;
- International migrants affected by disaster in their destination or transit countries;
- Communities affected by a disaster but that are not displaced or communities hosting the above categories; and,
- Other vulnerable mobile populations.
Finally, beneficiaries will include Member States represented by various government entities at national, sub-national and local levels, as well as local and international non-governmental partners and other key stakeholders.
Membership in Key Networks
Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) – In 2016, IOM became a full member of the IASC following the entry of IOM into the UN system as a related organization. IASC is the primary mechanism for inter-agency coordination of humanitarian assistance and involves the key UN and non-UN humanitarian partners. In the framework of IASC, IOM is the global lead for the Global Camp Coordination and Camp Management (CCCM) Cluster for natural disaster and is a member of the Global Cluster for Early Recovery (GCER) and its Strategic Advisory Group. IOM supports the work of IASC subsidiary bodies relevant to IOM’s DRR and resilience work, including the IASC Task Team on Strengthening the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus in Protracted Contexts and the Reference Group on Risk, Early Warning and Preparedness.
Migrants in Countries in Crisis Initiative (MICIC) - A government-led, multi-stakeholder initiative to improve responses for migrants in countries experiencing conflict or natural disaster. IOM serves as the Secretariat and is a member of the MICIC Working Group alongside UNISDR, UNHCR, Georgetown University, ICMPD and the European Commission for International Cooperation and Development. An important component of MICIC focuses on improving the ability of States and other stakeholders, to prepare for, respond to, and protect the dignity and rights of migrants affected by disaster events occurring in their countries of destination.
UN Senior Leadership Group on Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience (SLG DRR) - IOM is a member of the SLG DRR which is convened by the UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction and assisted by UNISDR. The SLG promotes the implementation of the UN Plan of Action on Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience and works to ensure alignment of the Plan of Action with other relevant initiatives of the UN, for example, the humanitarian-related work on risk, early warning and preparedness of the IASC.
UN Disaster Risk Reduction Focal Points Group - IOM is a member of the UN Disaster Risk Reduction Focal Points Group. The objective of this inter-agency group is to support the UN SLG, by contributing to the operationalisation, progress monitoring, and high level advocacy in relation to the UN Plan of Action on DRR. The Focal Points Group is also tasked to advocate for, and ensure integration of, risk reduction within the strategic planning and monitoring frameworks of respective member organization in order to enhance risk sensitive sustainable development in their sectoral / thematic domains or areas of work.
The Capacity for Disaster Reduction Initiative (CADRI) - IOM is an observer partner to CADRI. Established in 2007, CADRI aims at responding to the need for a coordinated and coherent UN-wide effort to support Governments develop their capacities to prevent, manage and recover from the impacts of disasters, in line with the Sendai Framework. CADRI Partner Agencies aim to strengthen existing capacity development initiatives and programmes and work in collaboration with UN and non-UN coordination mechanisms to ensure a better alignment of support in capacity development in disaster risk reduction offered to countries.
Platform on Disaster Displacement (PDD) - IOM is a standing invitee of, and contributor to, the PDD. The main objective of the PDD is to follow-up on the work started by the Nansen Initiative, a state-led consultative process on cross-border disaster displacement, and to implement the recommendations of the Nansen Initiative's Agenda for the Protection of Cross-Border Displaced Persons in the Context of Disasters and Climate Change ('The Protection Agenda'). The Protection Agenda was endorsed by 109 governmental delegations during a Global Consultation in October 2015.
Fostering Coherence: Sendai, 2030 Agenda and other Key Global Frameworks
In advance of the UN World Conference on DRR in Sendai in 2015, IOM worked closely with the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), agency partners, and its Member States to support the integration of mobility and displacement in global efforts to reduce disaster risk. Agreed in March, 2015, the resulting Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 (Sendai Framework) outlines global commitments to reduce risk and promote resilience. Now part of the development architecture around the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (2030 Agenda), the Sendai Framework is the first global agreement on disaster risk reduction to incorporate clear references to mobility and displacement. It not only recognizes the centrality of displacement in the disaster risk reduction context, but also clearly acknowledges the role of migrants in supporting recovery, in strengthening prevention and preparedness and in promoting resilience to future disaster risk.
Beyond the Sendai Framework, the need to build resilience to disaster and thereby reduce displacement is a central theme in a number of other international processes and agreements. The 2030 Agenda, adopted later in 2015, recognizes and reaffirms the urgent need to reduce the risk of disasters as part of its commitment “to leave no one behind”. It makes direct references to the outcomes of the Third UN World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction and the Sendai Framework and outlines 25 specific targets related to disaster risk reduction and resilience in 10 of the 17 SDGs. Similarly, the Paris Agreement adopted in 2015 by the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) recognizes the need to address the mobility implications of climate change, and establishes a global goal to promote adaptation, strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to climate change.
Further, as an outcome of the World Humanitarian Summit (WHS) in 2016, the biggest donors and aid providers signed up to the Grand Bargain, which commits to “significantly increase prevention, mitigation and preparedness for early action to anticipate and secure resources for recovery”, while the New Urban Agenda, agreed in Quito in October 2016, commits to strengthening resilience in cities by implementing better urban planning, quality infrastructure and improving local responses.
The Sendai Framework calls on the UN system to support the implementation of the priorities of the Sendai Framework coherently with the 2030 Agenda and other relevant international agreements. This led to the creation of the UN Plan of Action on Disaster Reduction for Resilience (UN Plan of Action), which provides the UN system with a common framework to strengthen system-wide coherence; build UN system capacity to deliver coordinated, high-quality support to countries on disaster risk reduction; and, ensure that disaster risk reduction remains a priority for UN organizations.
IOM is committed to assisting Member States to implement the priorities of the Sendai Framework in line with the Plan of Action. The Organization’s portfolio of work focusing on DRR and resilience contributes to all the priorities of the Sendai Framework aiming to substantially reduce disaster risk and losses in lives, livelihoods, health and in assets of persons, businesses, communities and countries. In addition, with IOM’s entry into the UN system as a Related Agency in 2016, a unique opportunity now presents itself for IOM to scale up its engagements and operational partnerships in support of Member States, and to promote greater attention to mobility dimensions of disaster risk within inter-agency planning frameworks and mechanisms, such as the United Nations Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF),
Humanitarian Response Plans (HRP) and the Capacity for Disaster Reduction Initiative (CADRI).
IOM Best Practices from National and Local Action
Disaster Risk Management for Resilience, Afghanistan, 2015-2018
Approximately 60 percent of Afghanistan’s population is exposed to natural hazards, impacting an average of 235,000 people each year, and adding to already widespread conflict-induced displacement. The severity of these disasters are exacerbated by decades of conflict, combined with drought and environmental mismanagement, impacting on rural mobility dynamics and affecting the sustainability of local livelihoods. Against this backdrop, IOM is implementing an initiative that seeks to reduce the mobility impacts of disaster events by strengthening the national Disaster Management Information System (DMIS) combined with resilience-building initiatives at the local level that include risk education, early warning systems, risk-mitigation infrastructure and cash-for-work.
Climate Risk Education for Small Island Developing States (‘SIDS’), 2012-2016
The Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) are at the frontline of climate change impacts and extreme weather events. With limited options for mobility and relocation, an intrinsic feature of small island states, impacts of typhoons, storm surge, droughts, flooding and landslides are frequently felt. IOM’s Climate Adaptation, Disaster Risk Reduction and Education (CADRE) programme integrates climate risk education within school curricula and raises awareness in local communities regarding climate risks and possible adaptation practices. The project has contributed to increasing the capacity of communities and households to anticipate, and adapt to, slow-onset climate-change effects or extreme weather events.
Early Warning & Early Action, Indonesia, 2015
Indonesia is frequently impacted by earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, volcanic eruptions, flooding and drought. Working closely with the national and local governments, IOM supported the development of regional-level emergency operations centres equipped with state-of-the-art information and communication technology and radio communication systems linked with technical training support. These EOCs now support quick, provincial-wide flow of disaster information between critical response actors in order to monitor hazards, reduce risk through mobility responses and to track and respond to forced mobility of disaster, as it occurs. The project was successful in upgrading the capacity of the Government to undertake effective disaster risk management, in particular through improved early warning capacity and better response preparedness for adverse events.
Preparing and Preserving Open Spaces for Response, Nepal, 2015-2018
Nepal is a hotspot for geophysical and climatic activity and ranked high in terms of vulnerability to natural calamities. Disaster risks are compounded by rapid growth in population and urbanization. To strengthen the resilience of local communities, IOM, in support of the Government’s National Disaster Response Framework (NDRF), has been supporting an initiative to identify, protect and preserve open spaces designated for humanitarian purposes and that can be used to provide safety and assistance for displaced people affected by disaster. The project is mobilizing women’s groups, youth clubs, local authorities and businesses to maintain the spaces. On April 25, 2015, a severe earthquake struck near the city of Kathmandu in central Nepal killing 9,000 people and damaging or destroying more than 600,000 structures. The spaces, identified to meet the communities’ projected needs, were used to great effect in the aftermath of the country’s 2015 earthquake.
Building Back Better, Pakistan, 2010
In July 2010, flash-flooding in Pakistan wreaked havoc in 15 thousand villages, affecting some 18 million people. IOM responded through the ‘One Room Shelter Project’ to provide 30,000 flood resistant durable shelters. A key feature of the project was to empower people to lead their own reconstruction process through a system of conditional cash payments. The project made use of locally salvageable materials, local labour and locally purchased material inputs. Key to the ‘build back better’ approach was support to training in flood-resilient building methods stressing adoption of local designs. IOM also supported a national communications initiative that raised awareness of assistance entitlements, disseminated key risk information and promoted a humanitarian hotline. The communications project led by IOM was subsequently incorporated into the Governments national disaster risk management strategy in recognition of its important contribution to the strengthening resilience in recovery and reconstruction.
Disaster Risk Reduction Focal Point(s)
IOM Transition and Recovery Division, TRDCore@iom.int
Louis Hoffmann, Head, Transition and Recovery Division, Department of Operations and Emergencies
Johan Grundberg, Transition and Recovery Expert, Transition and Recovery Division, Department of Operations and Emergencies
IOM corporate website:
IOM Migration Governance Framework (MiGOF):
IOM Compendium of Activities on DRR and Resilience, IOM:
IOM Environmental Migration Portal: Knowledge Platform on People on the Move in a Changing Climate:
IOM Outlook on Migration, Environment and Climate Change:
The Atlas of Environmental Migration:
IOM Migration Crisis Operational Framework (MCOF):
Migrants in Countries in Crisis (MICIC) Initiative:
Comprehensive Guide for Planning Mass Evacuations in Natural Disasters ('The MEND Guide'):
IOM Framework: Progressive Resolution of Displacement Situations (PRDS):
17, Route des Morillons CH-1211 Geneva 19 Switzerland
GP 2013 delegation
GP 2011 delegation
GP 2009 delegation
Conferences: - 2017 Global Platform
- 6th AFRP and 5th High-Level Meeting on DRR