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 Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO) has been increasing its involvement in DRR and preparedness projects over the last decade both in terms of funding and activities.
ECHO dedicates about 16% of its humanitarian budget to DRR activities and has developed DRR policy guidelines to guide implementing partners. ECHO also participated in the agreement which put disaster preparedness as one of the central principles for the Good Humanitarian Donorship initiative.
Launched in 1996, the Disaster Preparedness ECHO programme (DIPECHO) is the core element of ECHO's DRR global efforts, in which it has thus far invested €325 million. 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, ECHO 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, ECHO advocates for the integration of DRR efforts into development aid in order to ensure sustainable policies, particularly in countries at high risk.