Report DC-IR-1 [*] DEEEP-REPORT-2014-094

Feeling the heat. The human costs of poor preparation for disasters; 2012

Islamic Relief

Islamic Relief

Abstract: This report calls for more commitment to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). As climate change bites, natural disasters such as floods, drought and tropical storms are becoming more frequent and severe. The people paying the heaviest price are the world’s poorest communities, particularly in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. With the global economy stagnating, the international community can ill afford to throw ever-increasing amounts of emergency aid at the countries affected by these disasters. In 2010 the world spent 23 times as much on emergency relief for the ten developing countries hit hardest by disasters as it spent on disaster prevention and preparedness, despite research that money spent on disaster prevention saves in the long run. Islamic Relief believes that what the poor really need is proper protection against disaster – programmes that strengthen their resilience and ensure they are better equipped to withstand climatic extremes. Our growing experience of ‘disaster risk reduction’ (DRR) projects is that they offer huge potential to save lives and save money. What our research reveals, however, is that the resources allocated to such projects are woefully inadequate. A growing number of studies suggest that climate change is affecting the magnitude and frequency of extreme weather events. The past decade has seen record-breaking rainfall events in many countries including the US, Australia, Pakistan, Japan, Germany, the UK and South Korea. A tenth of the world’s land area now experiences extremely hot summers, compared to only 0.1-0.2% between 1951 and 1980. By the end of the century, the number of category 4 and 5 cyclones is expected to double, with perhaps a fifth more rainfall. The number of climate-related disasters increased by an average of 4.1% a year from 1980 to 2010. Preparation saves lives and money. Emergency relief saves lives and assists recovery, but too often it treats the symptoms of the profound problems poor communities face without addressing the root causes. Islamic Relief believes the answer lies in disaster risk reduction (DRR) projects – initiatives such as cereal banks and microdams to conserve food and water in drought-affected areas, or storm shelters and raised housing to prepare for cyclones and floods. When Cyclone Sidr hit Bangladesh in 2007, millions of Bangladeshis were already in newly built shelters or had been evacuated from coastal areas. The subsequent death toll was around 4,000, compared to the 140,000 that died in a cyclone of similar intensity in 1991. When Mozambique asked for a paltry $2.7 million in 2002 to help prepare for floods, donors only handed over half that amount. In the floods that followed, the international community spent $550 million on emergency relief and reconstruction. Islamic Relief’s positive experience of DRR is captured in this report, researched in association with nef (the new economics foundation). The report features: Former pastoralists in north-eastern Kenya spared from child malnutrition in the country’s worst drought for half a century through an irrigated agriculture project – at barely half the cost of emergency food aid. : Flood-plagued families in north-western Bangladesh protected from harm and flood damage in the worst seasonal flooding to hit their district for 24 years – thanks to earthworks to raise some of their land : Microdams in Mali and comprehensive village reconstruction work in Pakistan that have reduced people’s vulnerability to drought and floods respectively.

Keyword(s): Aid ; Causes ; Climate ; Climate Changes ; Costs ; Disaster Risk Reduction ; Disasters ; Droughts ; Drr ; Emergency ; Floods ; Humanitarian ; Humanitarian Aid ; Protection ; Recovery ; Relief ; Risk ; Root Causes ; South Asia ; Storms ; Sub-saharan Africa ; Water ; Weather

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Newsletters, Papers & Reports > Reports
Development and Global Justice

[*] This refers to the hardcopy version which you can find in the CONCORD library. You are invited to our office to browse our resources.

 Record created 2014-11-19, last modified 2015-03-10

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