HUMANITARIAN AID OFFICE (ECHO)
General policy affairs; relations with European institutions, partners and other donors; planning coordination and support; general support for major crises (ECHO 4)
Disaster Preparedness and Prevention (DPP):
State of play and strategic orientations for EC policy
Commission européenne, B-1049 Bruxelles / Europese Commissie, B-1049 Brussel - Belgium. Telephone: (32-2) 299 11 11.
Office: B-232. Telephone: direct line (32-2) 2968671. Fax: (32-2) 2992853.
Table of contents
Background and rationale for an EC disaster preparedness and Prevention Strategy
The EC policy on Disaster Preparedness and prevention - State of Play and Lessons Learnt
State of Play: ECHO´s DPP policy
The DIPECHO programme
Mainstreaming DPP into ECHO´s humanitarian operations
State of Play: Other RELEX Services´ disaster preparedness and prevention policy p.
Towards a coherent EC Disaster Preparedness and Prevention Policy - The way forward
Clarifying the Terminological Framework
Identifying and Agreeing on a priority list of disaster-prone countries
Reporting mechanisms and indicators
Establishing a Meaningful Division of Labour Between Commission Services
Scope and content of ECHO´s DPP strategy
Mainstreaming DPP into other ECHO operations
Other RELEX Services
Other Commission Services (DG ENV /DG RTD / DG JRC)
Conclusions and follow up
Annex 1: Evaluations of the DIPECHO programmes
Year after year 200 million people are affected by natural disasters or technological
accidents world-wide. More than 60,000 of them are killed and material damage
accounts for 69 billion € a year in the last decade. While the number of geophysical
disasters reported over the last decade has remained fairly steady, there has been a
steep increase of hydro-meteorological disaster events (floods, tropical storms,
droughts) since 19961. Many scientists assume that this trend will continue and
could even be reinforced as a result of global climate change. Together with
increasing population pressure and changing habitation patterns in the coming 35
years2, this scenario suggests that, a few years down the road, the number of people
affected by natural disasters could increase massively. On top of that, some
scientists suggest that climate change may cause large scale migration of
populations and trigger new or exacerbate existing conflicts about scarce resources
like arable land or water.
Such scenarios will inevitably be a major challenge to any of the existing external
relations policies of the European Community, be it in the area of poverty reduction,
conflict prevention, human rights or humanitarian assistance, particularly in view of
stagnating aid budgets.
As a key donor of development assistance and humanitarian aid the EC must have a
vital interest to prevent such bleak scenarios from becoming reality. Promoting
sustainable development is one such counter strategy, in which the EC has already
made progress and which, as a side-effect, can prevent or mitigate the effect of
natural disasters. It is a necessary but not sufficient condition to mitigate the impact
of natural disasters. Specific disaster preparedness and prevention measures are
necessary to ensure the success of sustainable development.
The objective of the present paper is to take stock of the state of play at EC level
and to present the outline for an EC strategy on disaster preparedness and
prevention. It is written from the perspective and experience of ECHO but should be
open for amendments and proposals from other Commission services, aiming at a
truly common and coherent approach on an issue that has been addressed so far in a
piecemeal and ad hoc fashion.
Figures taken from International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC): World
Disasters Reports 2001 and 2002.
According to the World Bank there will be an increase of 2.5 billion people, mainly in developing
For the sake of clarity and simplicity, and to avoid a debate of institutional
competence, the scope of the paper will limit itself to natural disasters3 and to
BACKGROUND AND RATIONALE
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS AND
During the past four decades, natural hazards such as earthquakes, volcanic activity,
landslides, tropical cyclones, floods, drought, and other hazards have caused major
loss of human lives and livelihoods. They equally destroyed economic and social
infrastructure and created environmental damage4.
Economic losses have increased almost 10 times during this period. In recent years,
floods in Bangladesh, Mozambique and elsewhere, volcanic eruptions in Ecuador,
DRC, Indonesia and the Philippines, and earthquakes in Afghanistan, El Salvador,
Indonesia, Peru or Turkey have created widespread social, economic and
environmental destruction. In some cases, natural disasters have amplified manmade emergencies, as epitomized by recent events in Afghanistan.
The escalation of severe disaster events triggered by natural hazards is increasingly
threatening not only the sustainable development and poverty-reduction initiatives
in the disaster-affected countries but in many cases also requires the provision of
The loss of human lives and the rise in the cost of reconstruction efforts and loss of
development assets has forced the issue of disaster reduction and risk management
higher on the policy agenda of affected governments as well as multilateral and
bilateral agencies and NGOs. This trend led to the adoption of the International
Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) by governments to succeed and promote
implementation of the recommendations emanating from the International Decade
for Natural Disaster Reduction (IDNDR, 1990-1999).
ISDR estimates that in economic terms the global cost of natural disasters is
anticipated to exceed $300 billion annually by the year 2050, if the projected
impacts of climate change are not countered with aggressive disaster reduction
measures. The environmental impact of natural hazards, in particular the loss of
environmental services (water, forest, biodiversity, ecosystem function, etc.), is still
difficult to assess and is often underestimated. Indirect economic losses of ‘market
share,’ following the disruption to trade after a disaster, also is not factored in.
The lack of capacity to limit the impact of hazards remains a particular burden for
developing countries. An estimated 97 percent of natural disaster-related deaths
each year occur in developing countries and, although smaller in absolute figures,
For the purpose of this note, the definition of natural disaster will include epidemics.
This chapter is largely based on a background paper of the United Nations International Strategy for
Disaster Reduction (ISDR) Secretariat: Understanding the Links between Vulnerability and Risk to
Disasters Related to Development and Environment. The paper was prepared by a panel of 350
experts from 80 countries for the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development
August/September 2002. See http://www.unisdr.org/unisdr/WSSDdocrevisedsept02.htm
the percentage of economic loss in relation to the Gross National Product (GNP) in
developing countries far exceeds that in developed countries. 24 of the 49 least
developed countries face high levels of disaster risk; at least six of them have been
hit by major disasters every year in the last 15 years, with long-term consequences
for human development.
In geographical terms, Asia is disproportionately affected with approximately 43
percent of all natural disasters in the last decade. During the same period, Asia
accounted for almost 70 percent of all lives lost due to natural hazards.
The European Union is well placed to assume a leading role in the pursuit of a
disaster reduction strategy within the context of global sustainable development. It
is the world's largest donor of development aid, and one of the main donors of
humaitarian assistance. The Commission has acknowledged the triple challenge
imposed by disaster preparedness:
– to developing countries themselves because disasters continuously exhaust the
coping capacities of their populations and imprison them in the poverty trap
– to donors of development cooperation assistance because the effects of natural
disasters pose a high risk to the billions of Euro invested in cooperation projects
– to humanitarian assistance because scarce humanitarian funds are drained by at
least partly avoidable effects of natural catastrophes, particularly of such
catastrophes that are know to be recurrent on a regular basis (e.g. epidemics,
annual floods) and for which sufficient remedies are envisageable through
forward-looking infrastructural and policy measures.
Several recent policy documents, notably the Commission Communication on a
Global Partnership for Sustainable Development5, highlight that it is imperative to
design appropriate development policies to reduce disaster risk. In this
Communication the Commission committed itself to "integrate disaster prevention
into European Union development and environment policies", thus reinforcing the
commitment made already in the 2001 Commission Communication on Linking
Relief, Rehabilitation and Development6 where disaster preparedness is seen as an
issue that requires "increased attention both in humanitarian assistance, and
particularly in development co-operation strategies and programmes".
In addition, the (draft) Commission Communication on Climate Change in the
Context of Development Co-operation7 stresses that “since people and all types of
systems are generally more vulnerable to sudden disruptive changes than to
gradual ones, adaptation options [to the adverse effects of climate change] should
also take into account disaster preparedness and prevention”.
"Towards a Global Partnership for Sustainable Development". COM (2002) 82 final, 13.2.2002
"Linking Relief, Rehabilitation and Development-An Assessment". COM (2001) 153 final, 23.4.2001
This draft Communication is expected to be adopted by the Commission by end February or early