Understanding Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)
A “disaster” is a situation that causes substantial losses and damage to communities and individuals, possibly including losses of life and livelihood assets and damage to the ecosystem, which leaves the affected communities unable to function normally without outside assistance.
“Disaster risk” is the likelihood that people will experience disasters. This risk is a function of the nature, probability, and intensity of hazards; the vulnerability of the people to these hazards; and, inversely, of their capacities to withstand or cope with these hazards. The magnitude of the risk is determined as illustrated in the equation below:
DR (disaster risk) = V (vulnerability) * H (hazard)
Disaster risk reduction (DRR) aims to reduce the damage caused by natural hazards like earthquakes, floods, droughts, and cyclones, through an ethic of prevention.
Disaster risk reduction is about choices
Disaster risk reduction is the concept and practice of reducing disaster risks through systematic efforts to analyze and reduce the causal factors of disasters. Reducing exposure to hazards, lessening the vulnerability of people and property, wise management of land and the environment, and improving preparedness and early warning for adverse events are all examples of disaster risk reduction.
Disaster risk reduction is everyone’s business
Disaster risk reduction includes disciplines like disaster management, disaster mitigation, and disaster preparedness, but DRR is also part of sustainable development. In order for development activities to be sustainable, they must also reduce disaster risk. On the other hand, unsound development policies will increase disaster risk – and disaster losses. Thus, DRR involves every part of society, every part of the government, and every part of the professional and private sector.
Investing in Disaster Risk Reduction saves lives, protects assets and builds resilience
The 2005 earthquake and the 2010 and 2011 floods have revealed the vulnerability of Pakistani society and economy to disasters. Damages and losses have been massive. Since 2005, the calamities have claimed over 80,000 lives and affected about 50 million people. In addition, the financial and economic losses of these events are estimated to have exceeded $24.7 billion so far.
Figure: Economic Impact of Recent Disaster on Pakistan
These losses could have been largely reduced if disaster risk reduction measures had been incorporated into physical, social and economic development programme and projects in the country.
The 2005 earthquake illustrated the fact that disasters are not natural; they are closely related to human knowledge, skills and action or inaction. It also provided a wake-up call to move away from an emergency response paradigm, and to devote more attention to prevention, mitigation, and preparedness.
The UN Environment Programme has stated that each USD invested in DRR will later save $47 in emergency response, a more moderate estimate from ECHO (international donor) estimates savings of 4-7 Euro in emergency response per Euro invested in DRR. Even the most moderate estimate demonstrates the importance of investing in Disaster Risk Reduction.
Reducing exposure to hazards, lessening the vulnerability of people and property, wise management of land and the environment (risk-sensitive development plans), and improving preparedness and early warning for adverse events are all examples of disaster risk reduction.
National Disaster Risk Reduction Policy
Pakistan prepared its 1st National Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) Policy in 2012 reflecting a major shift in Government of Pakistan’s traditional emphasis on disaster response (reactive) to disaster reduction (proactive), and in effect seeking to promote a culture of prevention and preparedness.