Enhancing Local Participation in Disaster Risk Reduction Efforts

 

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) aims to reduce the damage caused by natural hazards like earthquakes, floods, droughts, and cyclones, through an ethic of prevention. A disaster’s severity depends on how much impact a hazard has on society and the environment. The scale of the impact in turn depends on the choices we make for our lives and for our environment. DRR 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 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. DRR is a major component of humanitarian action and sustainable development. It is the initial step of the response process before a crisis hits and should involve every part of society, including civil society, government, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector. Ultimately, DRR requires a people-cantered and multi-stakeholder approach to enhance the capacity of local community and their participation to create a culture of prevention and resilience.

 

With the start of the cyclone season in March, the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, already living in horrific conditions, will face an even greater risk of disease, flooding, landslides and further displacement. There is a serious risk that shelters, water systems, latrines and other infrastructure could be severely damaged in storms or floods. Furthermore, overcrowding and the growing risk of extreme weather increases the risk of disease outbreaks such as cholera, malaria, and other water-borne diseases.

 

Adequate shelter for all Rohingya refugees is critical. The current high density and poor conditions of the refugee camps present a major risk as they are located in low lying areas subject to flooding. In the makeshift settlements established prior to August, 99% of shelters were constructed using bamboo and plastic sheeting, highly vulnerable to the impact of natural hazards including flooding and cyclones. The vast majority of new arrivals in the new, spontaneous sites have no shelter and are staying in the open air, often with only an umbrella for protection. The situation is similar in makeshift settlements where between 50% and 90% of people have no shelter. The implementation of disaster risk reduction strategies will be crucial to reducing the vulnerability of the Rohingya and needs to be an essential component of all humanitarian efforts.