Disaster risk reduction, an essential requirement for sustainable development

Members of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit during a practical workshop with Haitian masons
The building of earthquake-resistant infrastructures unfolds via the building of local capacities. Here we see a member of the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit at a practical workshop with bricklayers in Haiti. © SDC

Natural disasters strike rich and poor countries indiscriminately, but the repercussions are much more dramatic in the Global South. An earthquake, cyclone, flood or drought can undo decades of development efforts. The SDC is committed to disaster risk reduction not only to save lives, but also to ensure the sustainability of the socio-economic development of the countries it assists.

SDC Focus

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) is central to all programmes implemented by the SDC. This preventive approach is essential in vulnerable countries at high risk of natural disasters. The goal of DRR is to save lives and safeguard development gains. 

DRR activities focus both on sudden disasters, particularly flooding and earthquakes, and on disasters that make fewer headlines such as droughts. DRR involves action taken before, during and after a disaster. It requires a long-term commitment to strengthening the institutions, human resources and infrastructure of the partner countries concerned. It is an integrated process that encompasses scientific, technical and socio-political considerations.

The SDC promotes an integrated approach to disaster risk management, centred around the stages that typically occur before, during and after natural disasters:

  1. Prevention: reduce existing risks and prevent the emergence of new risks through preventive and planning measures
  2. Management: reduce the impact of a disaster by organising and training rescue teams
  3. Recovery: reduce the risk of future damage by advocating appropriate reconstruction models

Preventive measures can take a wide variety of forms, including the reforestation of catchment areas affected by landslides, forest mapping and the construction of earthquake-resistant schools (as in Haiti). Organising and training rescue teams saves lives and reduces the impact of disasters.

The SDC is also committed to promoting at the international level the experiences gained in the countries where it is active. In this respect, it played a prominent role in the drafting of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction. The SDC also works together with international organisations such as the Global Facility for Disaster Risk and Recovery (GFDRR) and the United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR).

Background

Adopted in March 2015, the Sendai Framework for Action on Disaster Risk Reduction sets out the priorities of the international community for disaster reduction during the 2015–30 period. The Sendai Framework replaced the Hyogo Framework for Action for the 2005–15 period and updated the definition of disaster. The new framework applies to the risk of small-scale and large-scale, frequent and infrequent, sudden and slow-onset disasters, caused by natural or man-made hazards as well as related environmental, technological and biological hazards and risks. It also calls for the strengthening of disaster risk governance, including national platforms.

DRR concerns all sectors of society. It only proves effective when everyone does their part: national and local authorities, the private sector (the insurance sector in particular), civil society, international organisations and the public at large.

Switzerland is internationally renowned for its expertise in DRR. In Switzerland, the SDC is leveraging its partnerships with other units in the Federal Administration to transfer this knowledge to its partner countries. It has joined forces with the Federal Office for the Environment, the Federal Office for Civil Protection and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), as well as a number of NGOs, the private sector, various universities and the Swiss National Platform for Natural Hazards (PLANAT).

Online tool

DRR is more than a priority theme for the SDC: it is a working methodology. Each project in a country at risk is evaluated to determine how vulnerable it is to potential disasters, and activities are planned to mitigate identified risks. To this end, the SDC has created the CEDRIG Online Tool (Climate, Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction Integration Guidance). Intended for all development and humanitarian aid professionals, this online tool can be used to integrate into project designs the risks associated with natural hazards, climate change and environmental degradation.

CEDRIG Online Tool

SDC internet portal on disaster risk reduction

Specialised information (news, documents, instruments, methods) on knowledge sharing and cooperation with partners and experts

SDC Disaster Risk Reduction Network

Documents

Current projects

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RBCM - Solidar Suisse Resilience Building in Central Mozambique

01.12.2021 - 31.03.2023

After having provided emergency relief and recovery support (response to Idai 2019, Chalane 2020, Eloise 2021), Solidar Suisse is assisting climate change and conflict related displaced persons and host communities in Central Mozambique with durable solutions mainly in the sectors of water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH), housing, and agricultural production, thus increasing resilience and enabling the beneficiaries to resume a normal life.


Strengthening the capacities of Community-Based Organisations serving migrants in Egypt

01.12.2021 - 30.11.2024

In Egypt, Community Based Organisations (CBOs) are key actors in responding to migrants and forcibly displaced persons’ basic needs especially amid COVID 19 pandemic. Building on lessons learnt from the first phase, CBOs will be further empowered to become more financially sustainable in order to continue providing quality services and advocate for migrants and forcibly displaced persons’ needs and rights in the donor community and with decision makers. 


Long-term support to UNRWA’s reform

01.07.2021 - 31.12.2022

Switzerland contributes to enable UNRWA to pursue key reform areas of its Medium-Term Strategy 2016-2022, mainly by supporting (i) management initiatives and set of actions to ensure that governance, accountability, management and transparency meet international standards, and (ii) the systematic integration and attention to the needs of vulnerable groups, in particular children, persons with disabilities and women survivors of violence.


COVID-19 Prevention and Resilience

01.07.2021 - 30.06.2023

The second wave of the COVID-19 virus has affected Bangladesh more intensely than the initial phase, impeding socioeconomic recovery and reiterating the importance of resilience building. This programme aims at engaging communities to curb the further spread of COVID-19 and enhancing socioeconomic resilience. Drawing upon Switzerland’s long-standing experience in providing rapid response and working on inclusive and sustainable development, it focuses on the disadvantaged segments of the population. 


Rural Resilience in Southern Africa / R4 Initiative

01.07.2021 - 30.06.2025

The R4 Rural Resilience Initiative for Southern Africa enables smallholder farmers’ adaptation to climate risk through improved resource management, insurance, livelihoods diversification, microcredit and savings. Through R4, Switzerland has become a credible and trusted partner in resilience building and its learnings have fed into policy dialogue. The emphasis of this final phase is on strengthening government and private sector, as well as the gender approach.  


Promotion and respect of human rights, gender equality and the international humanitarian law

01.06.2021 - 31.12.2023

Switzerland aims at enhancing prospects for Palestinians to live in dignity, prosperity and peace with Israel, via the respect and promotion of human rights, including gender equality, international humanitarian law and the rule of law by all duty bearers. To this end, SDC supports ten Palestinian and Israeli human rights and humanitarian law organizations active in the oPt, which provide legal aid and protection services to the population and advocate for the respect of the international law. 


Covid-19 Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (single phase)

01.12.2020 - 31.12.2022

Established by The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the Rural Poor Stimulus Facility (RPSF) addresses immediate impacts of the Covid 19 pandemic on rural people, prevents the erosion of results from past and ongoing operations, and puts in place building blocks to support post crisis recovery and long term resilience. As an IFAD member state, Switzerland joins international efforts with this time-bound response to prevent the health crisis from turning into a food crisis.


Resil - Projet de renforcement de la résilience et de la cohésion sociale au plateau dogon

01.12.2020 - 31.12.2022

Au Centre du Mali, les groupes armés exploitent la concurrence pour l’accès aux terres afin d’envenimer les relations entre communautés et de créer un climat d’extrême violence. En visant une meilleure productivité des terres et le renforcement des mécanismes de gestion des différends fonciers, le projet contribue à apaiser les relations et accroît la résilience. La Suisse contribue à la cohésion sociale, au développement rural et à la résilience des victimes du conflit. 


Contribution au Mécanisme de réponse rapide (MRR) pour la riposte CoVID-19

01.09.2020 - 30.04.2021

La COVID-19 a impacté la capacité des acteurs humanitaires à conduire leurs activités alors que le pays est frappé par des mouvements de populations sans précédents. Suite à une demande du consortium du Mécanisme de réponse rapide (MRR) – dont Action contre la Faim (ACF) est le chef de file –, cette proposition de crédit a pour objectif de contribuer à atténuer les effets négatifs de l’épidémie sur la capacité des acteurs humanitaires à porter assistance aux personnes impactées par la crise actuelle.


Explosion Beirut-Support to Education Sector

01.09.2020 - 31.08.2021

The project is a direct action to support the rehabilitation and renovation of public schools that were damaged by the 4th August blast in Beirut. The schools selected for the direct action are located in diverse neighbourhoods, with a particular focus on schools serving vulnerable populations of all nationalities and religious backgrounds (including refugees). The direct action is a contribution to the rehabilitation effort coordinated by the Ministry of education and the UN.


PSTIC: Provision of protection and humanitarian assistance to vulnerable migrants in Greater Cairo

21.08.2020 - 31.12.2021

The increase in migrants and refugees residing in Egypt, coupled with shrinking humanitarian funding are leaving many at protection risk. With new challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the protection risks have risen and needs are exacerbated. This project will respond to the immediate protection needs of refugees and migrants by providing a comprehensive package of gender sensitive emergency protection services in Greater Cairo, with a special focus on women and children at risk. 


WFP/UNHAS common services for Southeast Asia during COVID-19

12.06.2020 - 31.12.2020

Contribution by two funding entities (Humanitarian Aid and South Cooperation) to support WFP/UNHAS in Southeast  Asia in the framework of the COVID-19 Global Humanitarian Response Plan in terms of passenger services, light cargo and MEDEVAC. With passenger planes and air ambulances (air base: Subang/Kuala Lumpur) the freedom of movement of humanitarian and development workers as well as other supporters to the Global Humanitarian Response Plan who got into “land-locked” situations where no commercial capacity is available or possible to use is enhanced by WFP/UNHAS’ air or sea transport services. 

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