Disaster risk reduction, an essential requirement for sustainable development

Members of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit during a practical workshop with Haitian masons
The building of earthquake-resistant infrastructures unfolds via the building of local capacities. Here we see a member of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit at a practical workshop with bricklayers in Haiti. © SDC

Natural disasters strike rich and poor countries indiscriminately, but the repercussions are much more dramatic in the Global South. An earthquake, cyclone, flood or drought can undo decades of development efforts. The SDC is committed to disaster risk reduction not only to save lives, but also to ensure the sustainability of the socio-economic development of the countries it assists.

SDC Focus

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is central to all programmes implemented by the SDC. This preventive approach is essential in vulnerable countries at high risk of natural disasters. The goal of DRR is to save lives and safeguard development gains. 

DRR activities focus both on sudden disasters, particularly flooding and earthquakes, and on disasters that make fewer headlines such as droughts. DRR involves action taken before, during and after a disaster. It requires a long-term commitment to strengthening the institutions, human resources and infrastructure of the partner countries concerned. It is an integrated process that encompasses scientific, technical and socio-political considerations.

The SDC promotes an integrated approach to disaster risk management, centred around the stages that typically occur before, during and after natural disasters:

  1. Prevention: reduce existing risks and prevent the emergence of new risks through preventive and planning measures
  2. Management: reduce the impact of a disaster by organising and training rescue teams
  3. Recovery: reduce the risk of future damage by advocating appropriate reconstruction models

Preventive measures can take a wide variety of forms, including the reforestation of catchment areas affected by landslides, forest mapping and the construction of earthquake-resistant schools (as in Haiti). Organising and training rescue teams saves lives and reduces the impact of disasters.

The SDC is also committed to promoting at the international level the experiences gained in the countries where it is active. In this respect, it played a prominent role in the drafting of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The SDC also works together with international organisations such as the Global Facility for Disaster Risk and Recovery (GFDRR) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

Background

Adopted in March 2015, the Sendai Framework for Action on Disaster Risk Reduction sets out the priorities of the international community for disaster reduction during the 2015–30 period. The Sendai Framework replaced the Hyogo Framework for Action for the 2005–15 period and updated the definition of disaster. The new framework applies to the risk of small-scale and large-scale, frequent and infrequent, sudden and slow-onset disasters, caused by natural or man-made hazards as well as related environmental, technological and biological hazards and risks. It also calls for the strengthening of disaster risk governance, including national platforms.

DRR concerns all sectors of society. It only proves effective when everyone does their part: national and local authorities, the private sector (the insurance sector in particular), civil society, international organisations and the public at large.

Switzerland is internationally renowned for its expertise in DRR. In Switzerland, the SDC is leveraging its partnerships with other units in the Federal Administration to transfer this knowledge to its partner countries. It has joined forces with the Federal Office for the Environment, the Federal Office for Civil Protection and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), as well as a number of NGOs, the private sector, various universities and the Swiss National Platform for Natural Hazards (PLANAT).

Online tool

DRR is more than a priority theme for the SDC: it is a working methodology. Each project in a country at risk is evaluated to determine how vulnerable it is to potential disasters, and activities are planned to mitigate identified risks. To this end, the SDC has created the CEDRIG Online Tool (Climate, Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction Integration Guidance). Intended for all development and humanitarian aid professionals, this online tool can be used to integrate into project designs the risks associated with natural hazards, climate change and environmental degradation.

CEDRIG Online Tool

SDC internet portal on disaster risk reduction

Specialised information (news, documents, instruments, methods) on knowledge sharing and cooperation with partners and experts

SDC Disaster Risk Reduction Network

Documents

Current projects

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UNHAS - Accès aux bénéficiaires en Afrique de l’Ouest

01.03.2024 - 31.12.2027

Dans un contexte d’insécurité alimentaire croissante et d’accès humanitaire précaire au Sahel, le service aérien humanitaire des Nations Unies (UNHAS) permet d’accéder aux populations dans le besoin grâce à un transport sûr et rapide de personnes et de biens. La contribution à UNHAS permettra d’atteindre les populations vulnérables dans les régions reculées ou enclavées et d’assurer le suivi des programmes suisses.


UNHCR Digital Hub of Treasury Solutions (DHoTS)

01.02.2024 - 31.01.2026

Switzerland supports UNHCR’s Digital Hub of Treasury Solutions to create a UN Center of Excellence (CoE) in Geneva. It will facilitate the UN System’s and its partners’ access to global financial ecosystems and markets. It will trigger collaboration opportunities for advancing new cutting-edge capabilities and technologies, support preparedness and readiness in humanitarian emergencies for the delivery of aid assistance and financial inclusion and reduce financial transaction costs.


Accelerating the implementation of international commitments towards locally led humanitarian action 2024-2025

01.02.2024 - 30.06.2025

Locally led humanitarian action, development and peacebuilding (LLHDP) receives greater attention in international cooperation. Switzerland has a long tradition in working on LLHDP but lacks a coherent approach in taking this further. Through initiatives under this credit proposal SDC is making a meaningful contribution to the implementation of international commitments and efforts on LLHDP. This includes greater goal setting and progress on LLHDP, action-oriented research and catalytic actions to address specific blockages across the sector.


UNICEF, EMOPS Geneva, Core Contribution 2024-2025

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2025

The Office of Emergency Programmes (EMOPS) ensures that the United Nations Children’s Fund’s (UNICEF) role in complex emergencies is clearly defined, the organization properly equipped and prepared to deliver its mandate to support the needs of children. SDC’s support to EMOPS in Geneva enables UNICEF to lead inter-agency humanitarian coordination, response and standard setting in Water and Sanitation (WASH), Education, Nutrition and Child Protection.


SUD, OCHA: Sudan Humanitarian Fund 2024

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2024

The SHF is a country-based pooled fund that contributes to saving lives and protecting people in need by strengthening a coordinated and principled humanitarian response. It enables humanitarian actors to respond early and fast to humanitarian needs set out in the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP) and to critical emergencies. All interventions are in line with the Minimum Operating Standards approved by the Humanitarian Country Team.


SDC Contribution to the 34th International Conference of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement

01.01.2024 - 30.06.2025

The Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (hereafter the Movement) is among the most important partner of Switzerland in the implementation of its humanitarian priorities as defined in the Swiss International Cooperation Strategy. As the highest deliberative body, the Conference is of great importance for the Movement’s work, as well as for the promotion of international humanitarian law (IHL). The support for the Conference, the Movement as well as the strengthening of IHL constitutes strong priorities for Switzerland.


Yearly Contribution to the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) 2024

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2024

Established in 2005 as the UN’s global emergency response fund, the Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) – managed and administered by OCHA – pools contributions from funding partners around the world into a single global fund to enable more timely and reliable humanitarian assistance to those affected by natural disasters and armed conflicts. It is often the first funding source in new and rapidly escalating emergencies, and one of the few funding sources in underfunded emergencies.


Additional Allocation of SDC Funding (Sub-Saharan Africa Division) in 2024 to ICRC Operations in DRC

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2024

SDC funding to ICRC operations allows the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to respond proactively and to provide immediate protection and assistance for people affected by armed conflict and other situations of violence. In line with the Good Humanitarian Donorship (GHD) principles, Switzerland recognizes the necessity of predictable and flexible funding to respond to changing needs in humanitarian crises.


SPHERE Humanitarian Accountability Project 2024 - 2025

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2025

Sphere is a diverse global community that brings together frontline practitioners, humanitarian agencies, community organisations, trainers, donors, policy makers, government agencies and affected communities around a common goal – to improve the resilience of, and outcomes for, people affected by disaster and crisis. The Sphere Handbook is one of the most widely known and internationally recognised sets of common principles and universal minimum standards in humanitarian response.



Humanitarian Quality Assurance Initiative (HQAI) 2024

01.01.2024 - 31.12.2024

Following an internal evaluation of three related organisations (HQAI, CHS Alliance, Sphere) it was decided to discontinue the support to HQAI and CHS Alliance and that a last phasing out support to HQAI would be provided for 2024 to enable it to work on its renewed business proposition in line with its upcoming 2024–2029 strategic plan and ensuring its financial continuity.


Venezuela Humanitarian Fund (VHF) – Country-based Pooled Fund (CBPF)

01.10.2023 - 31.12.2025

The Venezuela Humanitarian Fund (VHF) is part of multilateral contributions for a Country based Pooled Fund (CBPF) that mobilizes and channels resources to humanitarian partners to respond to the humanitarian needs in Venezuela. The Fund operates within the parameters of the Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), with the objective of expanding the delivery of humanitarian assistance by focusing on critical priorities and needs.

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