Resilience: saving lives today, investing for tomorrow

News   •   Oct 13, 2016 16:36 BST

Natural disasters may be killing fewer people, but they are becoming more frequent and costing more money to recover from, according to a new report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The World Disasters Report 2016 noted that forced migration is at its highest level since the Second World War; the number and scale of disasters triggered by natural hazards are increasing; globalization and urbanization means outbreaks and other health crises are harder to contain; and the impact of climate change is taking its toll – 2015 was the hottest year on record with 32 major droughts, double the ten-year average.

Investing in resilience can yield a wide range of benefits, but the central rationale and common focus for disaster risk management and climate-change adaptation is associated with saving lives, reducing losses and supporting both individuals and communities to bounce back from disasters quickly and effectively.

Despite broad recognition that investing in resilience before a disaster can save lives and money, only 40 cents in every US$100 spent on international aid is invested in preparedness and measures to reduce disaster risk. A lack of global investment in strengthening community resilience is leaving tens of millions of people exposed to predictable, preventable and catastrophic disaster risks with expensive consequences.

Between 1991 and 2010, the impact of recorded disaster events in poor countries resulted in over US$840 billion of financial losses. Yet, over the same period, only 0.4% of the US$3.3 trillion spent on aid was dedicated to prevention or risk reduction. Economic losses from extreme weather events are now in the range of US$150 - US$200 billion annually,

Investing in resilience is the best method we have for protecting the lives, livelihoods and dignity of the world’s most vulnerable people,” said IFRC Secretary General, Elhadj As Sy. “Business as usual is no longer acceptable. It will only lead to more silent suffering and deeper poverty. We must work along a continuum – of preparedness, early response, recovery and resilience building.

It is clear that something must change,” said co-editors David Sanderson and Anshu Sharma. “But responding to today’s humanitarian challenges is not just a question of finance. We must invest in solutions and partnerships that produce future resilience – livelihoods and social cohesion, health and psychosocial well-being, supporting communities to withstand future shocks and adversity.

Building on the report, the IFRC is also calling on partners to support and join the One Billion Coalition for Resilience – a global initiative to support communities around the world to take action to strengthen their safety, health and well-being. Launched in late 2015, the initiative seeks to build a broad coalition of partners from across all sectors to support 1 billion people by 2025.