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Responding to Emergencies and Building Disaster Resilience

 

Disaster Risk Management (DRM) is increasingly at the core of ACTED’s work. Under this pillar, ACTED works within the DRM cycle which includes all activities, programs and measures which can be taken up before, during and after a disaster - whether natural or man-made - with the purpose to avoid it, reduce its impact or recover from its losses. ACTED does not consider a linear continuum approach to DRM and building disaster resilience but rather a cyclical contiguum approach, which forms part of a holistic cycle, with different interventions combining response, recovery, mitigation and preparedness while Linking Relief, Rehabilitation and Development (LRRD). Better development can reduce the need for emergency relief; better relief can contribute to development; and better rehabilitation can ease the transition between the two.

ACTED places resilience at the heart of its disaster risk management approach. ACTED recognizes that shocks and stresses are just one of many factors driving vulnerability and filmy believes that building resilience of affected populations in a holistic way is effective, cost efficient and sustainable. Resilience refers to the capacity of an individual, household, population group or system to absorb, adapt, and transform from shocks and stresses without compromising - and potentially enhancing - long-term prospects. Absorptive capacity covers the coping strategies individuals, households, or communities use to moderate or buffer the impacts of shocks on their livelihoods and basic needs. Adaptive capacity is the ability to learn from experience and adjust responses to changing external conditions, yet continue operating. Transformative capacity is the capacity to create a fundamentally new system when ecological, economic, or social structures make the existing system untenable. The resilience concept is thus not just looking at the impact of disasters but also at what makes communities vulnerable to multiple shocks and stresses. It further examines to what extent communities are able to bounce back after a disaster, conflict or shock, therefore addressing their core vulnerabilities and putting more emphasis on the need for recovery from such shocks to mitigate future risks. ACTED’s efforts to build resilience aims at contributing to a sustainable reduction in vulnerability through increased absorptive, adaptive and transformative capacity of local populations, governments and other actors; improved ability to identify, address and reduce risk; and improved social and economic conditions of vulnerable populations. A resilience approach within the disaster risk management cycle provides the crucial link between emergency response, early recovery and long-term development.

Core Area 1.1. Mitigation and Prevention

Rationale

Over the past 20 years natural disasters have caused more than 1.3 million deaths, affected, 4.4 billion people (64% of the world’s population) and led to US$ 2 trillion in economic damages and losses. The intensity and possibly frequency of hydro-meteorological disasters such as floods, cyclones and droughts can be expected to rise as climate change proceeds. Population growth, migration and increasing urbanization, especially in low-lying, hazard prone coastal areas, entail accumulated risk and increasing potential for human and economic loss. Poor natural resource management and degradation of key ecosystems, weak institutional capacity and governance, non-enforced or missing policies as well as financial constraints compromise low-income and lower-middle income countries’ resilience to shocks resulting in more severe impact and weaker response. However, through disaster mitigation measures the impacts and risks of hazards can be reduced.

Activities

  • Promoting and institutionalizing ecosystem-based disaster risk reduction with a specific emphasis on Climate Change Adaptation (promotion of climatesmart agricultural practices, energy efficiency, etc.) and Integrated Natural Resource Management (watershed management, sustainable land use, etc.);
  • Implementation of structural mitigation activities (building flood dikes, drainage system improvements, etc.);
  • Implementation of non-structural mitigation activities (land-use zoning, formulation of safety regulations, public education and training, etc.);
  • Hazard and vulnerability mapping and modelling and their integration and mainstreaming in development plans;
  • Protection of livelihood assets.

Impact Statement and Indicators of Achievement

Peoples' vulnerability to natural hazards is reduced by investing in simple measures to reduce the underlying risk factors.

  • Number of people who have become less vulnerable to natural hazards.

Core Area 1.2. Preparedness

Rationale

It must be recognized that despite the best mitigation efforts, hazards and shocks cannot be entirely prevented and will still strike. People need to be prepared to cope with stress or destructive forces, to manage and maintain basic functions and services during disastrous events and have the capacity to recover and ‘bounce back’ after an event. The need for adequate preparedness systems, and the importance of applying a multi-hazard approach, will continue to grow as global threats such as population growth, urbanization, food insecurity, climate change and competition over access to scarce resources become increasingly important drivers of humanitarian need. Preparedness interventions are less costly than emergency relief and response: For every US$ 1 spent on disaster preparedness, about US$ 7 are saved on possible disaster relief expenses. Indeed, more effective prevention strategies would not only save tens of billions of dollars, but tens of thousands of lives.

Activities

  • Strengthening Community-Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) and integrating CBDRM into governments’ development planning processes;
  • Capacity building of authorities in preparing and replicating preparedness and contingency plans, search and rescue, incl. provision of required assets;
  • Support to coordination and data sharing systems, including developing and promoting Early Warning Systems (EWS);
  • Provision and pre-positioning of contingency stocks;
  • Strengthening the national and regional-level disaster risk management policy framework.

Impact Statement and Indicators of Achievement

People are enabled to become more resilient to natural hazards by strengthening disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels of society.

  • Number of people covered by disaster risk management plans/activities and early warning systems;
  • Number of people reached through awareness activities that can demonstrate understanding of current/likely future hazards and corresponding preparedness measures.

Core Area 1.3. Emergency

Rationale

Conflict, insecurity and natural disasters affect millions of people every year, destroy livelihoods and reverse hard-won development gains. Emergencies can quickly overwhelm the existing capacities of governments and communities and often require immediate external assistance that can effectively and rapidly meet the multiple needs of affected populations. Indeed, there is a widening gap, between the needs of people affected by crises for humanitarian assistance and protection, and the ability of governments and international humanitarian actors to meet those needs. In the immediate aftermath of a disaster, ACTED's emergency response and relief activities offer context-specific solutions and aim to save lives, ensure public safety and meet the basic needs such as shelter, water and food of the people affected in close coordination with the relevant clusters/sectors.

Activities

  • Food and nutrition assistance;
  • Provision of shelter;
  • Distribution of Non Food Relief Items (NFRIs);
  • Provision of safe drinking water and hygiene facilities and promotion of good hygiene practices;
  • Protection activities, for example child and women friendly spaces;
  • Refugee and IDP camp management;
  • Emergency logistics;
  • Support to public institutions and service providers that provide life-line services like water, health and education;
  • Support to information management systems for better targeting and planning of relief assistance in collaboration with REACH.

Impact Statement and Indicators of Achievement

Humanitarian assistance is provided to crisis affected population based on principles of impartiality and non-discrimination to uphold their right to life with dignity.

  • Number of crisis-affected people provided with assistance and protection supporting their basic human right to life with dignity, by sector.

Core Area 1.4. Rehabilitation and Recovery

Rationale

Once emergency needs have been met following a disaster and the initial crisis is over, people affected are still in a state of heightened vulnerability. Rehabilitation and recovery activities are an important aspect for the restoration of basic services to enable the population to return to normalcy. The idea is to ‘Build Back Better, Safer and Fairer’- seeing rehabilitation and recovery also as an opportunity to address root causes of vulnerability and future risks and lay the groundwork for resilience to future crisis as well as sustainable development.

Activities

  • Construction and rehabilitation of infrastructure and productive assets;
  • Support to public institutions that provide basic services;
  • Promoting household food security and nutrition literacy for a balanced and nutritious diet;
  • Construction and rehabilitation of shelter;
  • Improving access to safe drinking water, provision of adequate sanitation facilities and promoting good hygiene practices;
  • Restoring livelihoods and fostering self-reliance through household economy approach.

Impact Statement and Indicators of Achievement

Disaster and conflict affected people have the ability to build back their lives better, and root causes of vulnerability and future risks have been addressed thus promoting sustainable development in the future.

  • Number of people assisted through access to basic socioeconomic services and/or means for supporting their recovery and building their resilience;
  • Number of social infrastructure and productive asset resources restored/built.
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