Thursday March 19, 2015

No new money to help poor countries prepare for disasters

The World Conference on Disaster Risk Reduction (WCDRR), held in Sendai, Japan, finished on Wednesday 18th March. Although there were some steps forward, particularly in sharing information on how to deal with disasters, governments did not make any financial commitments to carrying out these plans.
However it did result in the prospect of the developed world sharing the latest technology and ideas, particularly around weather forecasting, early warning systems and climate modelling. 
Aid agencies and other civil society groups would like to see extra funding for “disaster risk reduction”, because it is far cheaper to help people prepare for a disaster than responding to one. The number of disasters is increasing each year, making this an urgent priority for many poor countries. 
Shahnawaz Ali, Islamic Relief’s Worldwide Global Resilience Manager, said: 
“There are lots of tried and tested ways to help keep people safe when they are threatened by natural disasters. We’re pleased that this Conference has brought these techniques to the attention of governments around the world, and hopefully they will start to build them into both plans and budgets. However we need to see a firm financial commitment from the rich world to help make disaster risk reduction programmes a reality in many countries where they are desperately needed.”
The Conference finished with delegates from 187 countries signing of the Sendai Framework for Action, a blueprint that will help governments and local authorities to draw up plans for dealing with disasters. It pools knowledge form the world’s experts on disaster risk reduction, giving those responsible access to best practice and up-to-date information and advice. 
This framework will guide national strategies and international cooperation on disaster preparedness and response over next 15 years. It also highlights the importance of engaging local authorities and communities affected by disasters.
However there will be no new money to help developing countries implement any of these ideas on disaster risk reduction. Governments have postponed these discussions till the Financing for Sustainable DevelopmentConference, to be held in Ethiopia in June, although it is unclear whether DRR will receive the necessary attention then either. 
Faith-based NGOs like Islamic Relief were particularly disappointed not to see any reference to the unique contribution made by local faith communities and FBOs in disaster preparedness and response.
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