Timeline: National/local government organisations/initiatives

Disaster risk management needs to be situated within governmental responsibilities. Still, its success and effectiveness cannot be accomplished without an “all-of-society“ commitment and the participation of multiple stakeholders.

This timeline gives an overview of a selection of governmental organizations and initiatives, aiming at promoting, coordinating, and implementing disaster risk reduction measures at the national level.

In this timeline, it was impossible to provide an overview of the disaster risk reduction (DRR) governmental institutions and programs from every single country worldwide during those early days. A selection was made to illustrate the vast diversity of DRR governmental efforts globally.

The timeline includes links to all the available International Decade for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR) National Committee reports submitted as a contribution to the Yokohama Conference (1994) and as "End of Decade" reports (1999). Links to these reports are given at the respective years in the timeline. Some general regional and national activity reports are also included (in total, 180 documents).

The overview clearly shows that effective governmental institutional frameworks were already established in the 1970s-80s, particularly in highly disaster-prone countries, such as Bangladesh, the Philippines, the USA and some Latin American and Caribbean countries.

Interestingly, over time, the names/titles (and often their mandates) of those governmental institutions evolved from emergency management and response to disaster risk management (usually referring to preparedness, mitigation and prevention in their titles).

The IDNDR call in the early 1990s for the establishment of national committees gave a strong impetus to the growth of the number of national committees from only a few in 1990 to over 120 in early 1994. Many countries prepared national DRR action plans and presented them to the World Conference on Disaster Reduction held in Yokohama (Japan) in May 1994. These reports can be accessed through the timeline.

But the establishment of an IDNDR national committee did not always warrant the setting up an effective governmental institutional mechanism.

The second half of the IDNDR decade led to a further increase in the number of IDNDR national committees (to almost 140), but as mentioned by the IDNDR Scientific and Technical Committee in their final Report (1999): “The effectiveness of national committees or focal points have varied from being highly effective to being parochial or inactive. Some have become a significant force for concentrating and mobilizing policy interests and professional applications in carefully conceived programs [...] In others, more narrowly focused organizations have not adequately involved the wide range of participation that would have been preferred”.

Nevertheless, over time, an increasing number of countries got more engaged and committed, institutionalizing their DRR mechanisms, as illustrated by the reports on their activities at regional IDNDR meetings and at the concluding IDNDR Programme Forum in 1999.  

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