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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Lebanon: education and care in a neighbourhood shared by Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians

Inside a classroom where a woman teacher is sitting in front of a group of children showing them a book.

01.08.2016 - 31.12.2021

The inhabitants of Hay el Gharbé in southern Beirut live in a very precarious situation. Since 2012, a number of Syrian refugees have joined their neighbourhood. The SDC supports the Lebanese NGO Tahaddi, which has made a real difference in people’s lives here – such as with its education centre, helping a large number of children to (re)discover schooling and escape their daily hardships. 

Country/region Topic Period Budget
Lebanon
Education
Health
Primary education
Primary health care
Medical services

01.08.2016 - 31.12.2021


CHF  1’270’000



Strengthening and sustaining results for children and women in fragile, conflict-affected as well as climate and disaster-prone contexts

01.07.2016 - 31.12.2021

UNICEF through its 138 Country offices (CO) supports governments (especially at local level) and partners to reduce risk and strengthen resilience. To achieve this, UNICEF is currently increasing its focus on fragility and supports disaster risk reduction (DRR), climate change adaptation (CCA) and peacebuilding (PB) while also promoting a multi-hazard approach to Risk Informed Programming (RIP).


Soutien au Dispositif National de Prévention et de Gestion des Catastrophes et Crises Alimentaires au Niger (DNPGCCA) – Phase 5

01.05.2016 - 31.12.2021

Au Niger, plus de 3 millions de personnes sont affectées chaque année par l'insécurité alimentaire et nutritionnelle. Ces crises entrainent les ménages dans un cercle vicieux de pauvreté et de vulnérabilité. Pour faire face à ce défi, les autorités du Niger ont créé un dispositif national de prévention et de gestion des catastrophes et crises alimentaires. La Suisse accompagne ce Dispositif afin de soutenir durablement la sécurité alimentaire des populations les plus vulnérables.


Contribution to Rural Housing Reconstruction Project (RHRP)

01.01.2016 - 31.07.2023

Rural households affected by the earthquake of April 25, 2015, especially from disadvantaged groups, will rebuild earthquake resistant houses through the RHRP, the Government’s lead project for housing reconstruction. With a total contribution of 7 million CHF, the Swiss support through a Multi-Donor Trust Fund managed by the World Bank, will enable an additional 3’500 rural households to rebuild. The contribution will be complemented by technical assistance through secondments and experts provided also by SDC/HA.


Contribution to Rural Housing Reconstruction Project (RHRP)

15.12.2015 - 31.07.2023

Rural households affected by the earthquake of April 25, 2015, especially from disadvantaged groups, will rebuild earthquake resistant houses through the RHRP, the Government’s lead project for housing reconstruction. The Swiss support through a Multi-Donor Trust Fund managed by the World Bank, will enable an additional 2’250 rural households to rebuild. The contribution will be complemented by technical assistance secondments provided by SDC humanitarian aid.


Handicap International: Comprehensive action against Antipersonnel Mines (APM) and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) in three departments of Colombia.

01.08.2015 - 31.05.2017

The five decades running armed conflict in Colombia continues to cause humanitarian needs such as internal displacement, landmine contamination and the recruitment of minors by armed groups. Departments of Nariño, Cauca and Cordoba, by geography serve as strategic corridor to the Pacific and Caribe for the cultivation, production and trafficking of drugs, weapons and illegal mining among others, becoming scenario of social conflicts and armed confrontation. Rural communities in those departments are among the most affected by antipersonnel mines (APM) and Explosive Remnants of War (ERW) which generate victims with poor access to physical and psychosocial services, as well as option for social, economic and educational inclusion.


RCA: UNICEF Sous-cluster protection de l’enfance

01.06.2015 - 30.06.2017

Par son appui financier au Sous-cluster protection de l’enfance, la DDC souhaite contribuer au renforcement du système de coordination en RCA, pour assurer une réponse de protection coordonnée pour les enfants affectés par la crise. Ce soutien rentre par ailleurs dans le cadre de la stratégie de la protection de civils (PoC), et plus spécifiquement dans le plan d’action du DFAE pour la protection des enfants associés aux forces et groupes armés.


WFP Secondment Protection and Gender Advisor

01.06.2015 - 31.12.2016

In Myanmar especially conflict affected and rural populations suffer from moderate to severe malnutrition; but also extreme weather conditions may increase the situation of food insecurity. In recent years there have been reports on protection gaps in the implementation of WFP programmes and women and children are struggling to receive support. The secondment will provide technical support in the domain of protection and gender to the WFP country program.

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