Today we mark International Disaster Risk Reduction Day: an occasion to discuss how we can boost our resilience to disasters and decrease our vulnerability.
Disasters affect millions of people every year, often leaving an indelible mark on their lives. The developing world is particularly vulnerable - there, an earthquake or a major flood can take away the promise of development from those who need it the most. But as we have seen in Australia, Japan and the US this year, even the most developed countries are at risk and can suffer substantial loss.
This is why investment in disaster risk reduction should be even higher on our list of priorities - it is proven to save lives and to prevent hazards from turning into crises. Prevention also saves money - according to the United Nations, each euro invested in reducing disasters is estimated to save 5-7 euro in losses.
The European Commission supports disaster risk reduction activities through its humanitarian work - for instance in southeast Asia, where cyclones are frequent, the Commission funds flood resilience. In the Horn of Africa, on the other hand, the Commission works to boost local communities' capacity to withstand protracted droughts. Through investing in disaster preparedness, the Commission helps avert humanitarian crises, thus reducing human suffering and the need to respond to emergencies.
For more information on what the Commission does to reduce the risk of disasters: http://ec.europa.eu/echo/aid/dipecho_en.htm.