How to include and empower the vulnerable in disaster risk reduction

25 November 2014 15:30 - 17:00 GMT+00
Streamed live online

​Chair

Tom Mitchell, Head of Programme - Climate & Environment, Overseas Development Institute


Panel
Emma Lovell, Research Officer, Overseas Development Institute

Poverty:
Hugh MacLeman, Special Advisor to the British Red Cross’ International Director, British Red Cross

Gender:
Dr. Maureen Fordham, Enterprise Fellow Principal Lecturer in Disaster Management at Northumbria University and founding members of the Gender and Disaster Network

Age:
Nick Hall, Head of DRR and CCA, Save the Children
Claire Harris, Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience Adviser, HelpAge

Disability:
Annie Patri, Project Coordinator and Acting Domain Coordinator DRM, India Programme & Regional Projects/Asia, Handicap International

Ethnic groups:
Dr. Jake Rom Cadag, Assistant Professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman

Description
Policy makers and international agencies are currently negotiating the successor to the international agreement to reduce disaster risk – the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA), which is due to be agreed at Sendai, Japan in March 2015. The successor framework for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be defined on a similar timeframe. As we edge closer to 2015, we have an unprecedented opportunity to lock in a favorable and multifaceted international policy landscape for tackling disaster risk worldwide.


This event is one of a new event series Rethinking International Policy for Reducing Disaster Risk hosted by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) and Climate and Development Knowledge Network (CDKN). The series examines some of the more thorny issues involved in renegotiating the Hyogo Framework for Action, including public private partnerships, use of risk assessments, fragile states and conflict and effective governance for DRR, amongst others. Events are held at ODI and at key international DRR conferences in 2014.

This particular event supports the launch of an ODI briefing paper authored by Emma Lovell  and Virginie le Masson. The briefing paper further develops the vulnerability and inclusion dimensions that were included in The future framework for disaster risk reduction: a guide for decision-makers (Module 4). It particularly addresses the following topics:

  • Marginalised groups are more likely to suffer from disasters

  • Disasters exacerbate vulnerabilities and social inequalities

  • Vulnerable groups should be included in DRR as active agents of change for resilience to be effective and equitable

  • Vulnerable groups tend to be excluded from DRR decision-making, thus making them even more vulnerable to the impacts of disaster

The paper complements the guide and attempts to move the debate beyond the sole idea that vulnerable groups need to be included within DRR policy. Through promoting the socio-economic and cultural inclusion, as well as the political recognition of marginalised people, this paper provides examples of where their participation as active agents of change has proven beneficial for achieving effective and equitable resilience. This evidence will support recommendations for the inclusion and empowerment of vulnerable groups within the post-2015 framework for DRR.

The event will be chaired by Tom Mitchell, Head of Climate Change at ODI, with the aim of coming up with recommendations for the post-2015 framework for disaster risk reduction.

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ODI event. 25 November 2014

Policy makers and international agencies are currently negotiating the post-2015 framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR), the successor to the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) to be agreed at Sendai, Japan in March 2015. This is a critical time to promote stronger commitment and accountability for the integration of gender, age, disability and cultural perspectives into DRR.

Tom Mitchell, Head of the Climate and Environment Programme at ODI chaired this event, which aimed to gather the perspectives of different agencies on the inclusion and empowerment of at-risk groups in the draft of the agreement currently being negotiated by Member States.

Emma Lovell, Research Officer on Adaptation and resilience at ODI, presented the four key points of the new ODI/Climate & Development Knowledge Network paper ‘Equity and inclusion in disaster risk reduction: building resilience for all’:
1. Marginalised groups are more likely to suffer the effects of disasters
2. Disasters exacerbate vulnerabilities and social inequalities
3. Vulnerable groups are excluded from disaster risk reduction (DRR) decision making processes making them even more vulnerable to the impacts of disasters
4. DRR should include those the most at risk and foster social inclusion

The paper promotes socio-economic and cultural inclusion, as well as the political recognition of at-risk groups, providing examples of where their participation as active agents of change has proven beneficial for effectively and equitably building resilience. It also provides a set of recommendations for the inclusion and empowerment of at-risk groups within the post-2015 framework for DRR.

Tom highlighted that this event aims to gather the perspectives of different agencies on the inclusion and empowerment of at risk groups in the draft of the agreement being currently negotiated by Member States.

Hugh MacLeman, Special Advisor at the British Red Cross, discussed the linkages between poverty reduction and DRR and stressed the need for context-specific and differentiated understanding of both disasters and poverty (i.e. differences between urban and rural contexts). He highlighted how the framework tends to talk about the vulnerability of countries and not necessarily that of people; and emphasised that poverty reduction is only referenced five times in the zero draft of the post-2015 framework for DRR.

Annie Patri, Project Coordinator at Handicap International, highlighted some of the realities that people with disabilities face during and after disasters. Disabilities and the lack of structure to support people with disabilities exacerbate disaster impacts, particularly in relation to health and economic opportunities.

Dr Jake Rom Cadag, Assistant Professor from the University of the Philippines, emphasised that many ethnic groups are discriminately affected by disaster impacts yet the zero draft does not specifically refer to the need to collect disaggregated data on ethnicity. Jake also stressed that the idea of participation lacks a methodological component to sustain the involvement of local communities and to make goals and targets achievable.

Dr Maureen Fordham, Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University and Founding member of the Gender and Disaster Network, challenged the label ‘vulnerable’ as it often conveys the idea of powerlessness, and stressed that we should instead be talking about ‘at risk’ groups. ‘Gender’ is often reduced to ‘women’, which excludes not only masculinities but also other identities constructed around sexualities.

Maureen asked: do states know who is more or less at risk in disasters? Without disaggregated data, this is very unlikely. When we have the data, we are often surprised that it is not always the usual suspects that might be at risk in particular contexts.

Claire Harris, DRR and Resilience Adviser at HelpAge, stressed that older people experience a lack of economic opportunities, lack of mobility and social neglect but they also have key assets in terms of experience and knowledge that must be recognised in DRR planning and implementation. It is essential that disaster risk management takes into account the needs of older people, and that older people are able to participate in decision-making that affects their lives.

Nick Hall, Head of DRR and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) at Save the Children, further called for disaggregating groups by age, sex and other factors, as children’s identities range from 0 to 18 years. The HFA however, tends to talk about children and youth as if they were a homogenous group.

The panel, which gathered prior to the event, shared a document to discuss key components of the zero draft of post-2015 framework for DRR with the audience. Discussions emphasised the need to promote participation and to operationalise inclusivity, and the need for these to be institutionalised, enforced and resourced. The inclusion of at-risk groups is not only needed to help tackle various vulnerabilities that exist, but also gives us a better understanding of how well societies are functioning.