Disaster risk reduction, an essential requirement for sustainable development

Members of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit during a practical workshop with Haitian masons
The building of earthquake-resistant infrastructures unfolds via the building of local capacities. Here we see a member of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit at a practical workshop with bricklayers in Haiti. © SDC

Natural disasters strike rich and poor countries indiscriminately, but the repercussions are much more dramatic in the Global South. An earthquake, cyclone, flood or drought can undo decades of development efforts. The SDC is committed to disaster risk reduction not only to save lives, but also to ensure the sustainability of the socio-economic development of the countries it assists.

SDC Focus

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is central to all programmes implemented by the SDC. This preventive approach is essential in vulnerable countries at high risk of natural disasters. The goal of DRR is to save lives and safeguard development gains. 

DRR activities focus both on sudden disasters, particularly flooding and earthquakes, and on disasters that make fewer headlines such as droughts. DRR involves action taken before, during and after a disaster. It requires a long-term commitment to strengthening the institutions, human resources and infrastructure of the partner countries concerned. It is an integrated process that encompasses scientific, technical and socio-political considerations.

The SDC promotes an integrated approach to disaster risk management, centred around the stages that typically occur before, during and after natural disasters:

  1. Prevention: reduce existing risks and prevent the emergence of new risks through preventive and planning measures
  2. Management: reduce the impact of a disaster by organising and training rescue teams
  3. Recovery: reduce the risk of future damage by advocating appropriate reconstruction models

Preventive measures can take a wide variety of forms, including the reforestation of catchment areas affected by landslides, forest mapping and the construction of earthquake-resistant schools (as in Haiti). Organising and training rescue teams saves lives and reduces the impact of disasters.

The SDC is also committed to promoting at the international level the experiences gained in the countries where it is active. In this respect, it played a prominent role in the drafting of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The SDC also works together with international organisations such as the Global Facility for Disaster Risk and Recovery (GFDRR) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

Background

Adopted in March 2015, the Sendai Framework for Action on Disaster Risk Reduction sets out the priorities of the international community for disaster reduction during the 2015–30 period. The Sendai Framework replaced the Hyogo Framework for Action for the 2005–15 period and updated the definition of disaster. The new framework applies to the risk of small-scale and large-scale, frequent and infrequent, sudden and slow-onset disasters, caused by natural or man-made hazards as well as related environmental, technological and biological hazards and risks. It also calls for the strengthening of disaster risk governance, including national platforms.

DRR concerns all sectors of society. It only proves effective when everyone does their part: national and local authorities, the private sector (the insurance sector in particular), civil society, international organisations and the public at large.

Switzerland is internationally renowned for its expertise in DRR. In Switzerland, the SDC is leveraging its partnerships with other units in the Federal Administration to transfer this knowledge to its partner countries. It has joined forces with the Federal Office for the Environment, the Federal Office for Civil Protection and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), as well as a number of NGOs, the private sector, various universities and the Swiss National Platform for Natural Hazards (PLANAT).

Online tool

DRR is more than a priority theme for the SDC: it is a working methodology. Each project in a country at risk is evaluated to determine how vulnerable it is to potential disasters, and activities are planned to mitigate identified risks. To this end, the SDC has created the CEDRIG Online Tool (Climate, Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction Integration Guidance). Intended for all development and humanitarian aid professionals, this online tool can be used to integrate into project designs the risks associated with natural hazards, climate change and environmental degradation.

CEDRIG Online Tool

SDC internet portal on disaster risk reduction

Specialised information (news, documents, instruments, methods) on knowledge sharing and cooperation with partners and experts

SDC Disaster Risk Reduction Network

Documents

Current projects

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Making Markets Work for the Chars (M4C) in Northern Bangladesh (Phase II)

01.02.2017 - 31.12.2019

Women and men living on riverine islands will increase the productivity of their farms as a result of better access to quality inputs and services, processing and output markets. The 25’000 benefitting farm households are likely to invest additional income into the diversification of their farm businesses and basic needs. This will result in reduced poverty and vulnerability of men and women on riverine islands and an increase in their well-being.  


JOR - RSS Mapping Aquifer Vulnerability

01.09.2016 - 28.02.2018

The large influx of refugees into Jordan has increased the volume of solid waste going into landfills. A major problem experienced at the landfills is the loss of leachate, and the subsequent potential contamination of the groundwater. The municipalities in Jordan are expanding the current landfills to adapt to the unprecedented solid waste generation. The preparation of the vulnerability maps for these areas will help mitigate against the contamination of the groundwater. Five sites have been chosen for this purpose.


UNDP - Strengthening Disaster Risk Governance in Tajikistan (SDRGT)

01.08.2016 - 31.07.2019

Due to frequent occurrence of natural disasters the Government has endorsed number of laws and regulations, and developed relevant structure for DRM. However, the disaster risk governance requires further improvement. The project will assist the Government to expand approaches to risk governance at the national level involving the Government, civil society and the international community and improving local risk governance using risk assessments and risk informed land use planning targeting land owners and users.


FOCUS: Remote Geo-Hazards Capacity Building and Monitoring. Creating Opportunities in a Safe Environment (COSE): Integrating Risk Management

01.08.2016 - 31.07.2019

The high mountainous area of the Pamirs are highly prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, landslides, avalanches, draughts, glacial lakes outbursts and other earth mass movements. The project will strengthen the communities' and government’s capacity to analyze and manage risks and effectively employ natural resources in a coordinated manner to contribute to increased protection against natural hazards, reducing populations’ vulnerability to natural shocks and to increase their overall resilience.


Strengthening and sustaining results for children and women in fragile, conflict-affected as well as climate and disaster-prone contexts

01.07.2016 - 30.06.2018

UNICEF through its 138 Country offices (CO) supports governments (especially at local level) and partners to reduce risk and strengthen resilience. To achieve this, UNICEF is currently increasing its focus on fragility and supports disaster risk reduction (DRR), climate change adaptation (CCA) and peacebuilding (PB) while also promoting a multi-hazard approach to Risk Informed Programming (RIP).


Réduction des risques de catastrophes « naturelles » dans le Département du Sud-Est d’Haïti (RRC / Sud-Est)

01.02.2016 - 30.06.2018

Dans un contexte de catastrophes « naturelles » récurrentes qui minent les efforts de redressement du pays, le projet vise à réduire les risques de catastrophes pour les populations rurales et périurbaines de la munici­palité de Jacmel (département du Sud-Est) en créant d’une part des conditions favorables à la prise de me­sures de prévention grâce à des actions de formation et de promotion d’une gouvernance locale du risque, et en stimulant d’autre part une demande pour des mesures par une sensibilisation de la population.


CCR Centre de Compétence Reconstruction

01.02.2016 - 31.12.2017

Dans une période de transition entre la phase de reconstruction post-séisme et le relèvement du pays, le projet vise à ancrer de manière pérenne les contenus et la méthodologie de formation développée par le Centre de compétence en reconstruction (CCR) dans le domaine de la construction en maçonnerie chaînée dans le système de formation national haïtien. Les acquis développés en formation professionnelle sont transmis à la Coopération régionale (CR) pour son nouveau programme.


Indian Himalayas Climate Adaptation Programme

01.01.2016 - 31.12.2019

The sensitivity of the Indian Himalayan Region (IHR) to changes in global climate has been recognised and given priority by the Government of India. However, knowledge and scientific information on climate change impacts on the IHR is still limited and capacities to adapt are weak. The Indian Himalayas Climate Adaptation Programme (IHCAP) aims at bridging the knowledge gap on climate change impacts and response measures by supporting collaborative research, capacity building and knowledge exchange and dissemination.


Community Driven Watershed Management for Climate Change Adaptation in Nicaragua

01.01.2016 - 30.06.2020

Environmental degradation and climate change are reducing the capacity of the Dipilto River watershed to provide ecosystem services (water, forest) to the population, increasing their vulnerability and deepening poverty. The program will strengthen dialogue among stakeholders, empower communities and provide economic incentives for restoring the hydrologic and environmental equilibrium of the watershed, increasing the resilience of its 27 thousand inhabitants.


Gestion intégrée des bassins versants au Moyen Atlas

20.11.2015 - 31.12.2017

L’érosion des sols au Maroc, sévère dans les montagnes de l’Atlas, est à la fois cause et indicateur des défis auxquels font face les populations vulnérables de la région: désastres naturels et précarité. L’intervention propose une approche innovante de gestion intégrée des bassins versants qui augmentera durablement la résilience des populations locales, tout en améliorant leurs conditions de vie. L’engagement fort du Maroc pour sa réplication future à l’échelle nationale permet un effet multiplicateur considérable.


Nepal, Early Recovery and Expertise Reconstruction post-earthquake

01.10.2015 - 31.03.2018

Immediately after the 25th of April 2015 earthquake in Nepal, the Humanitarian Aid of SDC deployed a rapid response team to the affected area consisting of experts in the field of shelter, medicine and water and sanitation. This intervention is followed by an early recovery and reconstruction program which focuses during eleven months on knowledge transfer on seismic sound reconstruction and the provision of access to remote and mountainous areas affected by the earthquake.


Employment Fund, Phase II

15.07.2015 - 31.12.2017

The earthquakes that struck Nepal in April and May 2015 caused the destruction of 500,000 houses and the damage of 280,000 houses[1]. Nepal does not have sufficient construction workers with knowledge of earthquake resilient technologies. This project will train 3,000 people from the disaster affected districts in reconstruction relevant trades and in the use of earthquake resilient building techniques while 4,000 houses, the trainees own as well as other homes, are built.  

 

[1] Figures provided by the Government of Nepal: http://drrportal.gov.np

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