The International Day for Disaster Reduction, held every 13th October, celebrates how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters. Each year a different theme of disaster reduction is highlighted, and for 2018 the focus is on reduction of economic losses as a result of disasters globally. This corresponds to target C of the Sendai 7 (pdf), to “reduce direct disaster economic loss in relation to global gross domestic product (GDP) by 2030”. The targets in the Sendai 7 were developed from the Sendai Framework for disaster risk reduction and focus on different disaster vulnerabilities to prompt action on these issues globally.
The reduction of economic losses supports long term resilience securing livelihoods and better enabling affected communities to recover faster from the damage caused by disasters. Poorer communities are disproportionately affected by disasters. Therefore, protecting against economic losses becomes even more important in allowing people to recover, develop and prosper in difficult circumstances.
Reducing disaster-related economic losses can seem like a difficult issue to grapple with, but there are various interventions that can support an increase in economic resilience in disaster situations. QSAND, a shelter and settlement sustainability self-assessment tool developed by BRE on behalf of International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). Very much focused on a holistic approach to promote long term community sustainability and resilience covering infrastructure, construction approach, community-based interventions to the role of the natural environment – the economic dimension runs throughout.
Part of the three pillars of sustainability, the economic pillar is seen by QSAND as a key element for consideration in a reconstruction project following a disaster. Not only should the short-term reconstruction initiatives be economically viable for a community, but the long-term economic development of a settlement is a significant consideration if the affected population is to become more resilient to future disasters. These issues are considered in QSAND’s cross-cutting issues on economic viability and livelihoods, which consider cost-effective reconstruction and adaptation, and the protection and enhancement of livelihood assets and activities respectively.
As cross-cutting issues, they are considered throughout the framework QSAND lays out and help to inform decision-making at every step of the reconstruction process.
Considering livelihoods and economic growth in every decision that is made during a reconstruction project helps ensure interventions are suited to the affected community and reduce the risk of further complications during future events. For example, the aim of QSAND’s Material Properties / Specification issue (MW01) is to encourage the use of materials that are of an appropriate quality and which consider climate, culture, durability, local supply and environmental impact.
Similarly, the aim of QSAND issue NE01, Human Relationships to Ecosystem Services – to facilitate effective management of human activity in the natural environment – supports the livelihoods of communities by helping to ensure a sustainable relationship between humans and the natural environment. These issues recognise the increased risk of unsustainable exploitation following a disaster, due to the need to quickly rebuild, and offer solutions that reduce the risk of further degradation of the environment in the longer term.
QSAND supports decision-makers to consider the most appropriate options for the specific community and context they are responding to, and in this way find the best solutions for the beneficiaries of the reconstruction process. Through a cross-sectoral approach, reconstruction efforts can do their best to limit the economic losses as a result of disasters by building livelihoods and resilience. This is both a key feature of the thinking behind QSAND, and a core driver to support the International Day for Disaster Risk Reduction and UNISDR. Through QSAND’s attendance at the Africa-Arab Platform on Disaster Risk Reduction this year we hope to align ourselves closer with the Sendai Framework and continue to work to help those affected by disasters to build back better.
IDDR is celebrated annually around the world to raise awareness of disaster risk reduction activities. In line with the Sendai Framework’s desire to “build back better”, it highlights different issues related to disaster preparation, reconstruction and recovery. QSAND believes that preparation and risk reduction activities should begin from the earliest points of disaster recovery in order to ensure future resilience and sustainability of a community.