Disaster prevention saves lives

EU The European Commission plans to integrate Disaster Risk Reduction in its worldwide humanitarian and development actions as over 160 natural disasters occurred in the first half of 2010, killing worldwide almost 230.000 people and affecting 107 million others. Preparedness saves lives, speeds up recovery and reduces the impacts of future hazards.

Today, on the occasion of the International Day for Disaster Reduction, the Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection has reiterated the commitment of the European Commission to include measures for reducing disaster risks. Since 1996, the Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO) has integrated a Disaster Preparedness Programme into its humanitarian interventions, particularly in the world’s most disaster-prone regions.

“The great challenges posed by climate change, population growth and increase of industrial activity contribute to the alarming rise in the number of deaths, injuries and displacements, and the overall number of people affected. This increases pressure on humanitarian aid actors and resources. This is why, humanitarian, development and environmental interventions should take more proactive ‘risk reducing’ approach,” Kristalina Georgieva said. “Natural disaster prevention is “everybody’s business”, not just an issue for governments, the EU, the UN, international organisations or NGOs,” the Commissioner added. “Funds spent on helping communities prepare before a disaster strikes are three to four times more effective than funds directed at response to a catastrophe.” concluded Georgieva.

According to preliminary figures from the Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disaster (CRED), over 160 natural disasters occured in the first half of 2010. World-wide, these killed almost 230,000 people, affected 107 million others and caused more than €40 billion of damages. These figures do not even take into account the disastrous floods in Pakistan. Preparedness saves lives, speeds up recovery and reduces the impact of future hazards.

Disaster preparation and prevention have also been a matter of consideration for the European Commission. Since 1996, more than €230 million has been allocated to disaster preparedness and risk reduction activities in Central and Latin America, Central, South and South-East Asia, the Caribbean and South-Eastern Africa. All in all, ECHO allocates about 10% of its budget to disaster risk reduction activities.

The EU’s Civil Protection Mechanism also keeps better preparation among its activities and priorities. Training, exercises, exchange and collaboration of experts and projects are all practical measures, taken to improve the European disaster response capacity. In the area of civil protection, the European Commission is taking an integrated approach to disaster management including prevention, preparedness and response.

Reducing the risk of disasters contributes to long-term development goals; therefore, the Commission is consistently encouraging other providers of longer-term financing to systematically integrate it in their development strategies and policies.

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