Disaster preparedness

Post disaster reconstruction and recovery must ensure that pre-existing vulnerabilities are not replicated or exacerbated. Preparedness requires a thorough understanding of past, existing/present  and future hazards and their potential impacts so that steps can be taken to reduce the chances of disasters re-occurring.

Being prepared means having a thorough understanding of what went wrong in the past (vulnerabilities), the strength, frequency and destructive potential of current and future hazards, and the likelihood of disastrous events occurring in the future.

Building blocks of disaster preparedness:

  • the ability to analyse current and future hazards, shocks and stresses and their potential impacts
  • improved hazard protection and prevention – often in the form of physical infrastructure (such as, houses, bridges, dykes, embankments, etc)
  • interventions to strengthen and diversify livelihood options that contribute to resilience
  • increased early warning and awareness (must reach all members and they must know how to react)
  • adaptive capacity – the ability to experiment and make changes in the face of future uncertainty.
  • community participation – the involvement of all community groups with special attention to the needs of women and othe disadvantaged groups.
  • establishing contingency plans (operational details, roles and responsibilities) for when a disaster occurs and for implementation in the immediate aftermath.
  • developing partnerships with a range of actors – government, civil society, the business community to achieve positive outcomes.
  • the participation of local and national government agents with executive authority for planning and implementing post-disaster reconstruction and access to contingency budgets.
  • participatory monitoring and evaluation of reconstruction activities.

Including disaster preparedness planning during recovery and reconstruction offers the opportunity not only to rebuild homes and infrastructure which are better able to withstand the future impact of hazards, but also to promote livelihood options which are more resilient and productive. Build back better provides a real opportunity to reduce future risks while contributing to long-term poverty reduction.

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