Today marks the 26th edition of International Day for Disaster Reduction. Disasters have been increasing dramatically over the past few decades, with climate change contributing to even more extreme or unpredictable weather. This year the International Day focuses on the knowledge of indigenous communities, using modern science to increase their resilience. Cordaid works with these communities around the globe.
Degradation and loss of ecosystems intensify the hazards that lead to increased disaster risks, combined with the high vulnerability of communities in developing countries. It is well established that the poorest people in the poorest countries suffer disproportionately: lives, assets, products and crops are lost. Disasters wipe out hard-won reductions in poverty, and communities are caught in a vicious circle where poverty creates vulnerability and disasters increase poverty. To break this circle Partners for Resilience (PfR) combines efforts to reduce the impact of hazards on the most vulnerable communities.
Cordaid is one of the members of Partners for Resilience, as are The Netherlands Red Cross (lead agency), CARE Netherlands, the Red Cross/Red Crescent Climate Centre and Wetlands International. This alliance aims to reduce the brunt of natural risks on the livelihoods of around 400,000 vulnerable people worldwide.
Local knowledge is vital for preparedness and can be passed on from generation to generation.
Local knowledge is vital
But often efforts to reduce disaster risk or adapt to climate change are planned in separate sectors and add up to less than the sum of their parts. In addition, there is often a lack of engagement at the local level, where the disasters hit hardest and some of the most effective interventions to reduce risk could be made. On this International Day, the UN states that “Combined with scientific knowledge such as reports generated by meteorologists, local knowledge is vital for preparedness and can be passed on from generation to generation”.
PfR, connecting disciplines
Partners for Resilience feel that the course needs to change urgently. In the first-ever large-scale program of its kind, PfR brought together its expertise in a truly holistic manner, from 2011 until 2015. Our vision puts communities at the center by empowering them to strengthen livelihoods and connects disciplines by using the combined strength of organizations working in partnership. It expands its focus by encompassing wider ecosystems and wider timescales; and it connects humanitarian and development focuses.
‘We help the community to diversify their crops. Not only to plant beans or corn, but also vegetables and other crops that they can use to survive in this area.’
Christian Morales, from Caritas Zacapa (photo: Cordaid)
Diversifying crops, surviving drought
In Eastern Guatamala for example, the impact of ever increasing drought is severe. Usually communities lose their crops, like beans and corn, because of the drought. Christian Morales from our local partner Caritas Zacapa explains: “The communities are aware of climate change. We work with an integrated approach to climate change adaptation, management and recovery of ecosystems and disaster risk reduction. And we also work to recover local knowledge of the community. We help the community to diversify their crops. Not only to plant beans or corn, but also vegetables and other drought resistant crops that they can use to survive in this area.”
Supporting 600 communities worldwide
This is just one example of the many communities the PfR supports. During the PfR Global Conference, held from 5 until 8 October 2015 in The Hague, the main results and lessons learned for the PfR program 2011-2015 were discussed, together with representatives from partner organizations from the 9 focus countries. Along with Guatemala, the focus countries are Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Mali, Nicaragua, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.
In the past almost 5 years PfR supported 600 communities in high risk disaster areas in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Mali, India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Nicaragua and Guatemala:
Strengthening communities’ resilience:
- 487,000 people within community assisted with Disaster Risk Reduction;
- 71,172 people have adapted their livelihoods.
Working with civil society:
- 1,650 CSO staff strained in integrated risk management;
- 69 local partners and risk committees established contacts with meteorological offices and knowledge institutes.
- 209 government institutes (local and national level) reached with DRR advocacy
The Partners for Resilience program is financially supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs under its co-financing scheme (MFS II).