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Resilience to natural hazards and resulting disasters

In each of the last four years, global losses as a result of natural disasters have amounted to over USD 100 billion (caused by geophysical hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis and landslides, as well as hydrometerological hazards, including storms, floods, droughts and wild fires).

Climate-related disasters, in particular, are increasing worldwide and expected to intensify further with climate change. They disproportionately affect food insecure, poor people – over 75 percent of whom derive their livelihoods from agriculture. The impacts at household level are devastating. Flash floods can wipe out generations’ worth of assets in minutes, while prolonged drought slowly erodes lives and livelihoods – crops wither, animals die and scarce resources trigger displacement and violence.

Preventing and preparing for disasters – including adapting to increasing climate variability and extreme weather events – is critical but lacks adequate investment. In countries receiving the most humanitarian aid over the past decade, only USD 0.62 out of every USD 100 spent was invested in preparedness. Greater concerted efforts are needed to reduce risk exposure and mitigate damage and losses from natural disasters and climate extremes.

Most countries at risk already have some mechanisms in place for disaster risk reduction and disaster response, which serve as the basis for enhanced prevention and preparedness. FAO supports their efforts to strengthen communities’ resilience and reduce their exposure to risk, thus preventing disasters from happening. When disasters are unavoidable, due to the extreme intensity of hazards, FAO assists them in reducing the resulting damage and loss and ensuring that governments, communities, households and the private sector are well prepared to respond to the emergency, as well as cope with future hazards that affect agriculture, food security and nutrition.

Four key areas of focus are:

Governance

Putting in place or strengthening policies, legal frameworks, programmes, and investment strategies and for disaster risk reduction. For example, in 2014, plans of action for disaster risk reduction in agriculture were endorsed in Cambodia, Dominica and Lao People’s Democratic Republic. FAO also guided Vegetation Fire Management prevention activities in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Near East.

Information systems

Promoting information systems, improving vulnerability analysis and strengthening hazard specific early warning such as for tsunami, droughts, floods, wild fires and storms. See, for example, FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning System; Agricultural Stress Index; and Global Fire Information Management System.

Good practices

Developing and disseminating guidelines tools and methods and supporting community-based approaches.

Capacity development

Further developing capacities at all levels for disaster risk reduction and management, including for coordination, risk governance, contingency planning, preparedness and response.

 

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