Why is this important?
With increasing global population, mega-cities, pollution, climate change and poverty, more and more people have to face the impacts of disasters.
Disaster preparedness is highly beneficial for communities located in disaster-prone areas. Preparedness to hazards, such as extreme weather, volcanic activity and flooding, can help reduce the impact of such catastrophes on lives, livelihoods and communities. Better know-how, practice and response mechanisms, such as early warning systems and other disaster preparedness activities can save lives and speed up the recovery of communities.
In addition, disaster risk reduction (DRR) programmes are cost-effective and save aid money. On average, every euro spent for reduction and preparedness activities saves between four and seven euros which would be spent to respond in the aftermath of disasters.
How are we helping?
The European Commission's department for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations has been increasing its involvement in DRR and preparedness projects over the last decade both in terms of funding and activities.
In 2016, 9% of the European Union's humanitarian funding went to Disaster Risk Reduction activities – this amounts to more than €175 million.
Launched in 1996, the Disaster Preparedness ECHO programme (DIPECHO) is the core element of the Commission's DRR global efforts. The key goal of the programme is to increase communities' resilience and reduce their vulnerability. DIPECHO is a people-oriented programme, helping communities at risk of disasters to better prepare themselves by undertaking training, establishing or improving local early warning systems and contingency planning. It also encourages citizens, civil society groups and local, regional and national authorities to work more effectively together.
Integrating disaster risk reduction interventions into relief operations is another crucial element of preparedness. Given the possibility of reoccurring crises in the same region, the European Commission encourages the inclusion of disaster preparedness actions in aid responses. Adopting crisis information, alert and rapid damage-assessment systems for the humanitarian community is also important to ensure adequate support in disaster risk reduction activities.
Finally, the European Commission advocates for the integration of DRR efforts into development aid in order to ensure sustainable policies, particularly in countries at high risk.