Approaches To Disaster Risk Reductions

Approaches to Disaster Risk Reductions

Disaster management meant different for different players. For many decades prior to Major catastrophes like Orissa Super Cyclone (1999), Gujarat Earth quake & West Bengal Floods (2000) disaster management for respective state governments was to emphasis on early warning, evacuation, post disaster compensation, rehabilitation, shelter construction, i.e., basically reactive. 

And, NGOs, who consider they to be grounded and realistic typically considered disaster management as distributing cash, clothes, providing medical assistance, water purification, etc. Most important, they tended relax until the next disaster! They didn’t do much between two disasters to reduce the impact, reduce the vulnerability and susceptibility of the people.  

The perspective however has changed with a series of disasters mentioned above. Oxfam’s community based disaster preparedness (CBDP) approach has been replicated by different NGOs in different states with suitable adaptation to the local context. However, most of these initiatives are being implemented in isolation and as a project with limited life cycle, instead of integrating disaster preparedness in ongoing development programs.

DRR (disaster risk reduction) is a part of sustainable development, so it must involve every part of society, government, non-governmental organizations and the professional and private sector. It therefore requires a people-centred and multi-sector approach, building resilience to multiple, cascading and interacting hazards and creating a culture of prevention and resilience. Consequently DRM includes strategies designed to:

  • avoid the construction of new risks
  • address pre-existing risks
  • share and spread risk to prevent disaster losses being absorbed by other development outcomes and creating additional poverty

Successful DRR results from the combination of top-down, institutional changes and strategies, with bottom-up, local and community-based approaches. DRM programmes should not be standalone but instead be integrated within development planning and practice, since disasters are an indicator of failed or skewed development, of unsustainable economic and social processes, and of ill-adapted societies.

Approaches need to address the different layers of risk (from intensive to extensive risk), underlying risk drivers, as well as be tailored to local contexts. There is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach to DRM(disaster risk management), but there exist a number of approaches and frameworks, which have been effectively implemented to reduce disaster risk. But, before being able to reduce risk, we need to understand the hazards, and the exposure and vulnerability of people and assets to those hazards.

Disaster risk management:steps


Activities and measures to avoid existing and new disaster risks (often less costly than disaster relief and response). For instance, relocating exposed people and assets away from a hazard area.


The lessening or limitation of the adverse impacts of hazards and related disasters. For instance, constructing flood defences, planting trees to stabilize slopes and implementing strict land use and building construction codes.


The process of formally or informally shifting the financial consequences of particular risks from one party to another whereby a household, community, enterprise or state authority will obtain resources from the other party after a disaster occurs, in exchange for ongoing or compensatory social or financial benefits provided to that other party. For instance, insurance.




The knowledge and capacities of governments, professional response and recovery organisations, communities and individuals to effectively anticipate, respond to, and recover from the impacts of likely, imminent or current hazard events or conditions. For instance, installing early warning systems, identifying evacuation routes and preparing emergency supplies.

Activities for reducing risk can be described as structural, for instance land use planning and implementation of building codes, and non-structural, for instance awareness raising, policy-making and legislation. How governments, civil society and other actors organise DRM, for example through institutional arrangements, legislation and decentralisation, and mechanisms for participation and accountability is termed risk governance. There is clear evidence to suggest that low-income countries with weak governance are more vulnerable and less resilient to disaster risk.

Fundamentally, DRR succeeds in reducing risk by building the strengths, attributes and resources available within a community, society or organization – collectively known as their capacity. DRM activities are designed to increase the resilience of people, communities, society and systems to resist, absorb, accommodate and to recover from and improve well-being in the face of multiple hazards. Activities for reducing and managing risks can therefore provide a way for building resilience to other risks. In addition to development, DRM should therefore be integrated across a number of sectors, including climate change and conflict.

Identifying and understanding risk: the foundation of risk reduction

Awareness, identification, understanding and measurement of disaster risks are all clearly fundamental underpinnings of disaster risk management . Disaster risk reduction is about decisions and choices, including a lack of, so risk information has a role in five key areas of decision making:



Risk identification

Because the damages and losses caused by historical disasters are often not widely known, and because the potential damages and losses that could arise from future disasters (including infrequent but high-impact events) may not be known at all, DRM is given a low priority. Appropriate communication of robust risk information at the right time can raise awareness and trigger action.

Risk reduction

Hazard and risk information may be used to inform a broad range of activities to reduce risk, from improving building codes and designing risk reduction measures (such as flood and storm surge protection), to carrying out macro-level assessments of the risks to different types of buildings (for prioritizing investment in reconstruction and retrofitting, for example).


An understanding of the geographic area affected, along with the intensity and frequency of different hazard events, is critical for planning evacuation routes, creating shelters, and running preparedness drills. Providing a measure of the impact of different hazard events—potential number of damaged buildings, fatalities and injuries, secondary hazards—makes it possible to establish detailed and realistic plans for better response to disasters, which can ultimately reduce the severity of adverse natural events.

Financial protection

Disaster risk analysis was born out of the financial and insurance sector’s need to quantify the risk of comparatively rare high-impact natural hazard events. As governments increasingly seek to manage their sovereign financial risk or support programs that manage individual financial risks (e.g., micro-insurance or household earthquake insurance).  


Resilient reconstruction

Risk assessment can play a critical role in impact modelling before an event strikes (in the days leading up to a cyclone, for example), or it can provide initial and rapid estimates of human, physical, and economic loss in an event’s immediate aftermath. Moreover, risk information for resilient reconstruction needs to be available before an event occurs, since after the event there is rarely time to collect the information needed to inform resilient design and land-use plans.


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