Disaster Risk Reduction Will Save Billions in Aid

Less than 1% goes to risk reduction

Capacity building in developing countries is needed, says OxfamOxfam released a research paper titled Crises in a New World Order.

The paper suggested that a major failure in humanitarian aid has been the limited investments made in building local resilience and low spending for disaster risk reduction.  Oxfam reports that the low financial commitment continues despite the rhetoric to the contrary.

With less than 1% of aid finding its way into building the local capacity to be more resilient, it is little wonder that this is considered a failure.

Neglecting the need for risk reduction is hard to understand when you consider that these investments could save billions of dollars of the world’s resources.  In fact Sarah Oughton with the British Red Cross sights a U.N. Development Program study that suggests that, “every $1 spent on disaster risk reduction could save $4 in emergency response”.

Think of how much money the world saved in reconstruction costs in Japan’s earthquake over the Haiti quake. Japan has spent years to build a local capacity that reduces the risks from disaster while Haiti continues to build any way that they can. Obviously the two countries are years apart in local capacity, but if we don’t start investing in resilience there will never be any financial saving in these areas that are at risk.

In the past Oxfam has discussed the puny 1 percent spending levels for disaster risk reduction. In the latest paper they reiterate that “too little investment has been made in the capacity” of these crisis-affected countries. They added: “Building their capacity must be central to humanitarian action, as capacity building has been in development for years.”

So if capacity has been in development for years, why has only 1% been given to this important development process? Maybe it is time to up the percentage. Especially when Oxfam states that “Meeting the challenge to build is essential for effective emergency response and for increasing communities resilience to disasters, violence and other shocks.”  If we increase local capacity by even 10%, the savings in future aid would be substantial. At 4 to 1 the odds of a great return on investment seem pretty good.

The World Bank in concert with the Asian Development Bank have calculated that an investment of $27 million would make a huge impact of disaster losses.  On the other side of the ledger, the cost of reconstruction from the 2010 Pakistan floods is predicted to run above $10 Billion.  What would have been saved if Pakistan had moved just a few percentage points closer to the construction resilience of Japan?

The Oxfam paper also draws attention to the 2005-2015 Hyogo Framework for Action that is seen as a foundation for the 5 actions that will build resilience in developing nations:

Priority Action 3: Use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels.

Disasters can be substantially reduced if people are well informed and motivated towards a culture of disaster prevention and resilience, which in turn requires the collection, compilation and dissemination of relevant knowledge and information on hazards, vulnerabilities and capacities.

The capacity to withstand disaster and to save international aid resources rests upon the strength of foundations at all levels. We contend that a strong foundation within the construction sector is an important investment in building a culture of resiliency and safety. By combining modern innovations with a working knowledge of supply chain integration the capacity to produce resilient foundations will increase.

We have been helping communities build their local capacity to supply solid foundations for nearly 20-years.  We believe that the infrastructure, buildings and homes of the poor should reap the rewards of capacity building investments.  With “concrete” changes in the local construction culture a dollar of aid would easily turn into 4-dollars of savings in the next disaster.

We are offering our help to any who will listen… Can we help you?

Bruce Christensen is the author at CementTrust

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About cementtrust

I am a director with Cement Trust and passionate about improving cement-based production in the poorest nations of the world.
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One Response to Disaster Risk Reduction Will Save Billions in Aid

  1. cementtrust says:

    To highlight the need to invest in disaster risk reduction I am sharing this warning: http://www.voanews.com/english/news/americas/Haiti-Warned-to-Expect-More-Major-Earthquakes-138165349.html
    The Seismological Society of America is warning that Haiti should expect and plan for a period of heightened earthquake activity…
    Much of the rebuilding may not be prepared to withstand the next earthquake. If that is true.. MORE RUBBLE to clear and LIVES to RESCUE!

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