We all have a reason to celebrate the great achievements under the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) during the past decade. Communities across Asia are now more receptive to disaster risk reduction (DRR) and are willing to adapt to climatic changes; governments are shying away from emergency response syndrome by establishing and strengthening DRR systems and structures; and development partners are far more eager to provide technical support to both governments and communities in achieving the underlying goal of ‘resilient development.’
At the same time, however, the past decade also offers useful insights vis-à-vis risk- and climate-sensitive development, predominantly in the perspective of Asia. In this regard, Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC) initiated a 10-year flagship program on Mainstreaming DRR into Development (MDRD) in 2004, with support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Government of Australia. Based on learning from the MDRD program, which was implemented in more than 15 countries throughout the region, some interesting issues and options are outlined below – many of which may be considered for wider discussion at the upcoming WCDRR and made part of the post-2015 framework.
First, development is too political, and at times, constituency-driven. More often than not, the political or elected leadership of a country dictates development decisions be it a macro program or a small project or scheme. Politicians (read policy- and decision-makers) have their own time-bound agendas, political commitments, priorities and limitations, which leave little room for them to participate in DRR and climate change discourse. It is, therefore, critical for the development partners, academia, media, and civil society organizations to consciously engage with the political leadership for the sake of making risk-inclusive development an integral part of their thinking as well as the development decision-making process.
Second, governance systems are usually intricate along with the development planning and implementation processes. Without fully understanding and analyzing the governance system of a country within which overall development takes place, identification of appropriate DRR and climate change entry points will continue to be a challenge. Also, it would be useful to appreciate the fact that each country has its own governance and development dynamics, which may require country-specific approaches to risk-inclusive development rather than applying a standard framework.
Third, public-sector development planners, financial controllers and disaster managers find it challenging to make a convincing point for the policy and decision-makers with regard to investing in DRR and climate change in the absence of a solid evidence of ‘returns.’ For this to occur, the development of country-specific frameworks for assessing the impact of such investments both in qualitative and quantitative terms seems to be critical. These impact assessment studies can always serve as useful policy advocacy tools. That is also where we can potentially see a role for the mainstream, local and alternative media, which can effectively help exert pressure through public discourse on the subject.
Fourth, over the past ten years, the HFA has successfully laid down the foundation for implementing more specific actions under the post-2015 framework in terms of mainstreaming DRR and climate change considerations into development planning. In this direction, a robust needs assessment of key sectors at national and sub-national levels may prove to be handy for the resilient development agenda to prosper.
Fifth, risk assessment has almost become a buzzword and a number of countries have carried out risk assessments of varied categories and types in one way or the other. The fundamental challenge, however, is on the usability of such risk assessments. Perhaps, more emphasis needs to be placed on making the risk information usable for the development planning officials. It would require the development of tools and methodologies for processing and packaging the risk information compatible with the development framework of a country.
Sixth, HFA helped promote the implementation of Community-Based Disaster Risk Management (CBDRM) at a much wider scale. Building on it further, it would be best to explore the technical and operational possibilities of linking the CBDRM framework and its outputs with the local-level development planning institutions. It will not only help sustain the community-level initiatives, but also contribute to introducing and strengthening the resilient development agenda at the local level.
In addition to the above six points, it would be an opportune time for the post-2015 framework to encourage national governments to opt for a robust accountability mechanism. This will lead to a more transparent assessment of their efforts, which in turn will contribute to better risk governance. ENDS#
Mr. Irfan Maqbool serves as Head of the Safer Development Planning and Implementation Department of Asian Disaster Preparedness Center (ADPC), a leading regional resource hub for disaster risk reduction in South and Southeast Asia. Irfan has more than 15 years of professional experience in disaster risk reduction including designing, managing and monitoring technical programs and projects at the national, sub-national and local levels in a number of Asian countries. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org