The concept, disaster risk reduction (DRR), is a modern form of emergency relief.

In the past when a disaster struck, and we’re talking generally about natural disasters, organizations from developed countries would arrive in the disaster-struck locale and offer assistance to reduce the impacts from the disaster. The assistance often was in the form of financial aid or supplies or expertise. DRR attempts to not only address the impacts that have already occurred but also to develop within the affected community the resources, skills or infrastructure to deal with the conditions that caused the disaster, to the extent those conditions are subject to influence. In short, DRR is the development of policies, strategies and practices to minimize vulnerabilities and disaster risks throughout a society to avoid or prevent or to limit the adverse impacts of hazards. It is an attempt to prevent risks from disasters rather than just mopping up after; it is about prevention rather than reaction.

Concrete examples of DRR as applied to flooding include construction of dykes to channel water away from vulnerable communities, a watch tower for villagers to see the waters rising to dangerous levels with a siren to sound the alarm, a bridge to create an escape route for the community at risk, and emergency shelters with toilets and clean water pumps built on higher ground which shelters can be used as a school all year round.

In one sense, DRR is a form of adaptation to climate change impacts particularly for vulnerable communities.


Some further ideas to explore on Disaster Risk Reduction:

Identify a risk to a vulnerable community in a developing country and develop a DRR strategy for and concrete ways of reducing that risk, through skills, infrastructure or resources that can be made available to the community for their use.

Develop a cost estimate for this DRR plan and see if there is any way you can raise funds to pay for it.

Then implement your plan.

Go through this same process for some risk to your community.



“What is Disaster Risk Reduction,” United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction

See Interview with Mary Robinson, President of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Environmental Justice in irish environment (May 2012)

WMO Disaster Risk Reduction Programme, World Meteorological Organization

Practical Action, “Preparing for floods”


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