6. Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)

1.1 What disaster risk reduction is

1.2 Disaster risk reduction key concepts

1.3 Why disaster risk reduction is important before emergencies

1.4 Why disaster risk reduction is important during and after emergencies

Once a disaster has occurred and CARE is responding, DRR should be incorporated as a cross-cutting issue in the emergency strategy. This means ensuring the emergency response identifies and maximises opportunities to mitigate the impacts of the disaster, build capacities and reduce vulnerabilities to future emergencies.

Risk assessment should be incorporated even in the initial rapid needs assessment. This helps ensure that disaster risk reduction is successfully incorporated in the emergency response plan, in the different thematic sectors of intervention, and as an explicit thematic area of the response when indicated by the assessments.


Situational analysis

Conduct an analysis of the hazards that contributed to the occurrence of the disaster.

  • What were the hazards that contributed to the disaster?  What other hazards may occur in the disaster-affected communities?
  • What is the likely frequency and severity of these hazards striking in the future?  What are the likely effects of these hazards on people and communities?
  • How can the likelihood and severity be mitigated?

Vulnerability analysis

Conduct an analysis of the vulnerabilities of the affected people and communities to these hazards, preferably group-specific. Distinctions should be made between, among others, socio-cultural, economic, political, environmental, physical and ecological factors.

  • How is the emergency response mitigating the impact of the disaster and limiting further vulnerability?
  • What are the key vulnerabilities that should be addressed or can be avoided through strategic rehabilitation decisions? How can the emergency response ‘build back better’?
  • Is the emergency response creating new vulnerabilities and exacerbating existing ones? How can these be avoided?

Capacity analysis

Analyse the capacities of the affected people and communities to cope with these hazards. This assessment could focus on (consistent with the sustainable livelihood approach) human assets, physical assets, natural assets, social assets, political assets and financial assets.

  • What are the capacities of the community to withstand the disaster?
  • How can the emergency response strengthen these capacities?

Project planning and management

Explicitly address DRR in programme planning and management throughout the programme cycle, based on the above analysis of the strategic opportunities and risks associated with CARE’s response to the disaster.

  • Strategically consider the situational/capacity/vulnerability analysis to ensure CARE’s emergency response maximises positive changes, and avoids reinforcing or reinstating disaster risks.
  • What specific DRR objectives and indicators can be included in programme design?
  • What methods can be used to evaluate the impact of the project on disaster risks, within and outside the affected communities?

3.1 Mainstreaming disaster risk reduction

3.1.1 Undertake a process of emergency preparedness planning

3.1.2 Identify opportunities to mainstream DRR throughout CARE’s programmes

3.1.3 Pursue targeted community-based disaster risk reduction programming in partnership with high-risk communities

3.2 Case study: Practical examples of DRR issues during emergency response

  • Relying on exclusively community-based DRR interventions. DRR interventions need to be both community-based and externally informed.
  • Not focusing enough on community-based DRR practices. It is important to strike a balance between community-based expertise and practices, and other available knowledge.
  • Making our analysis too complex. A correct balance must be achieved in analyzing hazards, capacities, vulnerabilities and their immediate and root causes. Response can’t be delayed by over-analysis, in the same manner that analysis can’t be sacrificed in the pursuit of speed. Remember that analysis is not a one-off but continuing activity in the course of the response.
  • Making our analyses too general. What may work for a community as a whole, may not work for women-headed households, people living with HIV/AIDS, etc. Be aware of the different risk landscapes that people live in.
  •  Allowing analysis to be defined by political-administrative boundaries. Risks to communities may emanate from outside their territorial boundaries. Analysis should look at the situation of the larger landscape.
  • Create new risk, eg by installing emergency infrastructure that blocks waterways, depleting the scarce water and other natural resources, or reinforcing existing social inequalities.

A DRR (or Integrated Risk Management) advisor in CARE Netherlands is available to advise on all DRR issues, including providing advice during emergencies (refer to contact details at the start of this chapter).

Note that DRR involves technical interventions in a range of infrastructure, environmental and other areas, and it is critical to bring in the appropriate technical expertise. In particular, expert help is required in the technical design and construction of hazard-proof infrastructures (bridges, roads, buildings, irrigation structures, etc.), as well as in addressing problems related to pollution, receding groundwater and health issues.

The CARE Humanitarian Mandate Statement says that ‘Responding to humanitarian emergencies is an essential part of CARE’s work to fight poverty and injustice and we recognize that emergencies are a cause and effect of both. CARE helps people cope with crises through disaster risk reduction, emergency relief, preparedness and post-crisis recovery’. As part of its objectives ‘[…] CARE also strives to address the underlying causes of people’s vulnerability.

CARE’s Program strategy 2020 – CARE’s approach to Increasing Resilience

In CARE International’s Program Strategy 2020, Increasing Resilience is a core component of CARE’s approach, and although broader than DRR alone, the capacity to deal with shocks and stresses should be considered throughout all off CARE’s work, including the Humanitarian Assistance outcome area. This means that all work should be based on a forward looking risk analysis, amongst others strengthening the capacity to absorb shocks and stresses, and reducing drivers of risk.

A guidance note on the Increasing Resilience element of CARE’s approach is currently being developed, and contains a paragraph on Increasing Resilience in Humanitarian Assistance.

CARE’s emergency strategy focuses on incorporating DRR as a cross-cutting approach into emergency programming. A CI DRR strategy was developed in 2012 (see Annex 34.1 CI DRR strategy). At the foundation of this strategy is the principle that CARE is committed to respond to disasters in a way that people are assisted effectively, and that risks of similar disasters are reduced significantly. The core values on mainstreaming DRR into relief and reconstruction are described below.

6.1 Key principles for mainstreaming disaster risk reduction

Since 2005, in adherence to the ‘Hyogo Framework for Action’ ), followed by the ‘Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction’ in 2015 (by the UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction), CARE International has been developing its institutional capacities in DRR. CARE Nederland is the CARE International focal point for this topic. CARE has been involved in the DRR policy development of main institutional donors, such as the European Commission, and in the establishment and strategic orientation of the UNISDR.

At present, most COs and regional offices have mainstreamed DRR considerations into their medium and longer-term strategies. Ongoing feedback to these is provided by CARE Nederland to ensure regular and adequate updates. At field levels, CARE has implemented many specific DRR programmes, including with partners such as ECHO. Results of evaluations have been constantly fed into the design and implementation of follow-on programming from earlier initiatives. Learning points have been effectively shared during regional workshops, on the website and through specific DRR e-learning events and conference calls. CARE has also mainstreamed DRR considerations in a wide range of projects and programmes, in all the realms of emergency response, rehabilitation and sustainable development. In a number of regions, for instance the wider horn of Africa and Central America, mapping exercises on DRR components have been conducted, further facilitating interregional learning and dissemination of best practices and processes.

To help the DRR-related learning process within CARE, a training manual was developed that includes tools and guidelines, and an overview of performance indicators for mainstreaming DRR in all phases of the project cycle.

Most importantly, CARE considers climate change adaptation (CCA), ecosystem management and restoration (EMR) and DRR as domains that complement and inform each other. At policy and field levels, CARE CCA and DRR and natural resource specialists and practitioners can closely collaborate and synthesise efforts and resources. As they experience the benefits from such collaboration, they are advocates for each other’s agendas and promote CCA and DRR together to the international community.

Preventionweb contains a search engine for DRR tools (which can be selected according to the type of hazard, the level of analyses, the type of materials requested, the users, etc.):

United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction