Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is a cross-cutting theme to be mainstreamed in all sectors of development. The mainstreaming can also be promoted through DRR-specific interventions focused on: strengthening policy and organizational structures and knowledge management for DRR with a particular focus on the highly disaster prone communities. The Regional Consultative Committee (RCC, 2006), comprising of 26 Asian Countries, on Disaster Management under its program on Mainstreaming Disaster Risk Reduction into development have identified Housing,Health, Infrastructure, Agriculture and Education as priority sectors to initiatemainstreaming DRR. The effects of a disaster vary according to the nature of the event itself and thecharacteristics of the communities and objects affected: the population, theirnatural environment, their housing, the public services on which they depend,and the physical structures and assets of industry, commerce, and othereconomic activities that provide goods and livelihoods.
During disasters social infrastructure comprising of housing, schools and hospitals are severely affected. Last year Kerala experienced the worst floods ever since 1924. Nearly 341 landslides were reported from 10 districts. According to the reports, the devastating floods and landslides affected 5.4 million people, displaced 1.4 million people, and took 433 lives. The PDNA of the disaster affected areas indicated that Housing, Land and Settlements damages were worth: Rs 5,027 crores, Health and Nutrition: 499 crores, Education and Child Protection: 175 crores, Infrastructure sectors Water, Sanitation and Hygiene and transportation: 890 crores.
During 2013, State of Uttarakhand experienced an unprecedented high rainfall that resulted in flash floods and landslides. The continuous rain disrupted normal life resulting in a total of 580 human lives being lost, over 4,083 persons missing and over hundred thousand pilgrims being stranded. Overall this event has affected over 900,000 people in Uttarakhand. The PDNA highlighted that damages and preliminary estimates of reconstruction cost was Housing 1505 INR Million.
The Fani cyclone of April 2019 resulted in evacuation of about 1.2 million people. Huge damage was reported to infrastructure facilities including health facilities and schools. According to PDNA reports 1031 public health facilities (all types) were damaged; 5971 educational buildings comprising of primary,secondary and higher education institutions were damaged.
According to the UN Habitat more than a billion people around the world live with inadequate housing and by 2030 it would be about 3 billion people, or about 40 per cent of the world’s population. While the governments are tackling the housing shortages by facilitating and implementing enabling shelter strategies, concurrently governments increasingly have to deal with housing reconstruction arising from natural disasters. Housing is often the sector severely impacted by both hydro-meteorological and geophysical disasters. On a micro scale, disaster event disrupts day to day life and leaves the families without shelter and results in lack of access to basic health services such as water, sanitation and disruption in regular formal education.
With limited resources and options, recovery processes of individual households are contingent upon their coping capacity and the external support. On a macro scale, housing sector accounts for 10-50% of total disaster losses alone. For countries that suffer disasters year after year, this can leave regular development programs in a constant state of flux as they are repeatedly raided for resources to help pay for unexpected reconstruction. Further, governments are increasingly concerned about the risks posed by extreme weather events and climate change. Housing and other related infrastructure especially school buildings and hospitals have longer lifetime (typically 20 to 40+ years) and they will be increasingly exposed to future risks posed by extreme events and climate change.
With this understanding, Mainstreaming DRR in housing, health and Education would require to consider the effect of natural hazards (current as well as future risks magnified by climate change) and of the impact of those interventions in turn, on vulnerability to natural hazards, and accordingly have adopted risk reduction measures. At a strategic level mainstreaming entails addressing / incorporating DRR measures in policies, regulations while at operational level undertaking specific measures such as evaluation of hazards, vulnerability and risks and addressing it through appropriate mitigation measures.
Aftermath of any major disaster infrastructure recovery strategies is one of the challenging tasks as there is lot of uncertainty on how the reconstruction program will be undertaken. At the policy level it is utmost important for mainstreaming DRR in the reconstruction strategies to enable safe built environment and build back better. Housing reconstruction is a unique challenge and provides a window of opportunity to reduce underlying risks factors and build back better. Mainstreaming can be undertaken by enhancing safety standards, review of regulatory and planning framework such as land- use and by incorporating disaster risk reduction. Mainstreaming DRR into these specific sectors should ensure that both policies and plans are in place with appropriate goals and objectives that demonstrate due consideration of risk issues and be based on disaster risk assessment. Improved resistance and hazard resilience of health and housing facilities, analysis of their internal and external vulnerability during emergencies, and the construction of resilient and functional infrastructure along with increased preparedness to maintain operations and functionality during disasters are specific steps that become imperative for implementation.
Given the vital role that the Health Sector plays in helping to respond to disasters, mainstreaming DRR takes on an even more crucial role. Mainstreaming DRR into the health sector involves the reconstruction and retrofitting of health facilities so that they are hazard-resilient. The location, design and construction of hospitals and other critical healthcare facilities must take all types of hazard risks into account. This needs to be given credence by clear policies on the development of health facilities, and supported by the training of healthcare personnel on incorporating DRR into the construction / development of health facilities and coordination at all levels. Likewise, schools, colleges and university buildings are often used as emergency or evacuation centers during disasters. This is because these buildings are available almost everywhere and are generally better constructed. However it also places additional responsibility on all the stakeholders to prevent the interruption of education or ensure its swift resumption following any disaster.
Therefore, approaches for mainstreaming DRR into these three crucial sectors may require:
The participants of the session will include the stakeholders involved in construction, maintenance and running of these facilities. The wider stakeholders including senior administrators involved with these sectors may be requested to participate in the session.
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