Timeline: Civil Society Organisations

This timeline focuses both on national civil society organisations from the Global South and International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs).

The first CSOs active in Community Based DRR practice were organisations from the Global South, mainly in Asia and Latin America. Well-known examples include the "Centro de Estudios y Prevención de Desastres" (PREDES) (Peru) (est. 1983), the Citizen's Disaster Response Center (CDRC) (Philippines) (est. 1984), the All India Disaster Mitigation Institute (AIDMI) (Gujarat) (1987), the Bangladesh Disaster Preparedness Center (BDPC) (Dhaka) (1992) and Sustainable Environment and Ecological Development Society (SEEDS) (New Delhi, India) (1994).

During the same period, a few INGOs and the Red Cross, having mainly been engaged in responding to disasters, started to realise that "Prevention was better than Cure". This was the case for the Red Cross following the famine in Ethiopia (1984) and Oxfam based on its experience with community-based disaster mitigation in Latin America (1989). However, given the broad humanitarian mandates of these organisations, disaster risk reduction did not yet become mainstream in this period and was only applied/tested in a limited number of contexts.

In the Global South, several CSOs were established with disaster risk reduction as their unique mandate (called "preparedness", "mitigation", or "prevention" in their titles, depending on the context). Often these NGOs were engaged in a combination of action research, implementation, and advocacy work.

Northern NGOs were rarely set up with DRR as their only mandate, GeoHazards International (USA) (1991) being an exception in this regard.

A unique Southern NGO, only focusing on a single hazard, was the "National Society for Earthquake Technology – Nepal" (NSET), a professional society registered as a Non-Government Organization. Its focus was exclusively on Earthquake Risk Management.

At the Yokohama World Conference (May 1994), a first attempt was made to establish a Global Forum of NGOs for Disaster Reduction (GFNDR). The GFNDR held two General Assemblies but was unfortunately discontinued in 1997.

Around the same time, initiatives took place to create networks of NGOs in a subregional context, such as Duryog Nivaran (1995) in South Asia and La Red (1992) in Latin America (which had a solid scientific focus).

In the United Kingdom, despite its rich NGO tradition, in the 1990s only a few NGOs were active in the field of disaster risk reduction. Intermediate Technology Development Group (later called Practical Action) and Tearfund were the most engaged, besides Oxfam and the Red Cross, as already mentioned. A much larger group of UK-based NGOs would get involved in pro-active disaster work in the new Millennium.

In the mid-1990s, a global network of grassroots women organisations was set up, following an initiative by Grass Roots Organizations Operating in Sisterhood (GROOTS) and the Huairou Commission. In 1997 the Gender and Disaster Network was created as an educational and advocacy project initiated by women and men interested in gender relations in disaster contexts.

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