What you need to know about disaster risk reduction

Disaster risk reduction issues must be considered in everyday decisions, from how people educate their children to how they plan to build buildings. Every decision can make us more vulnerable or more resilient. Before writing about disaster risk reduction, it is crucial to understand the nature of this problem and understand the used terminology.

The threat, risk – a physical phenomenon, human action, or condition that can cause human casualties, disability, or other harm to health, property loss, social or economic shocks, or damage to the environment.

Threats can have various sources – natural, geological, hydrological, meteorological, and biological or are caused by human activities (environmental or man-made).

Disasters – A disaster is a result of a combination of the existing vulnerability criteria under the threat, and the lack of means or potential to reduce the negative consequences of the risks.

Vulnerability– is the degree to which someone or something is subject to a certain threat, which depends on various factors and processes.

  • Physical /unstable regions, areas close to threat sources, rugged and unprotected habitats/
  • Economic /no production assets, limited income opportunities, low salaries, low income per family member, lack of savings and insurance/
  • Social /low social status, gender relation, little decision-making opportunities, authoritarian state, and informal institutional structures, as well as political, economic, and social hierarchies/
  • Psychological /fears related to religious beliefs and other systems of worldview, political pressure, mental disorders/
  • Physiological /vital status: young, old; underage pregnant woman, nursing mother, chronic illness, disability, exposure to sexual harassment, AIDS, HIV, and other infections/

Disasters in proportion 

3 million people annually die from AIDS and HIV. Malaria kills 1.3 million people. About 1.2 million annually die in car accidents every year.

Risk is the probability of negative consequences or expected losses, body injuries, property loss, disruption of economic activity, or environmental pollution, which are considered to be the results of the interaction of human and natural threats and vulnerable groups of people.

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) – Disaster risk reduction includes all the policies, strategies, and measures which can make people, villages, cities, and countries more resilient to threats, and reduce the risks and vulnerability to disasters.

DRR includes various components: 

  • Prevention includes all types of activities that directly provide an opportunity to avoid the adverse consequences of hazards, as well as measures aimed at minimizing environmental, man-made, and biological disasters.
  • Mitigation has various meanings for professionals working on climate change and disaster management, which is often confusing. In the context of disaster management, mitigation mainly refers to structural and non-structural measures taken to limit the negative consequences of natural threats, environmental degradation, and man-made hazards.
  • Preparation includes timely and effective actions planned in advance by individual communities to reduce the negative effects of natural threats and eliminate the consequences of possible disasters.
  • Rehabilitation includes the decisions and actions taken after disasters to restore or improve pre-disaster living conditions of affected communities.
  • Reconstruction is a series of activities undertaken after disasters to restore the function of basic services, isolate physical damage, restore utility infrastructure, and revitalize the economy and well-being.