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Disaster risk reduction

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) aims to reduce the damage caused by natural hazards like earthquakes, floods, droughts and cyclones, through an ethic of prevention.

We work alongside with communities to improve preparedness, reduce vulnerability and build peoples’ resilience to shocks, stresses and uncertainty.

When disaster strikes

Every year, more than 35 million people have to abandon their homes as a result of war, crime, political unrest and natural disaster. Many lose everything they own. And it’s the world’s poorest communities who are hit hardest.

  • Economic losses from disasters are now reaching an average of US $250-300 billion each year.
  • Between 1980 and 2012, 42 million lives were lost in disasters each year.
  • Growing global inequality, increasing hazard exposure, rapid urbanisation and overconsumption of energy and natural capital now threaten to dive risk to dangerous and unpredictable levels (UN, 2015).

But hazards do not need to become disasters. By helping communities to better understand the risks they face and building their capacity to adapt to, cope with, withstand and recover from hazards and climate change, we can help them to not only survive, but thrive.

Oxfam’s approach

DRR and Resilience is much more than helping people cope or bounce back after a disaster: it is about empowering women, men, girls and boys to reduce their vulnerability and risk before the disaster strikes and have access to the necessary skills, knowledge and information to continually adapt to ongoing change, stress and disruption.

Oxfam’s resilience work involves working with partners and vulnerable communities so that they are better able to:

  • Manage risk and uncertainty;
  • Adapt to the predicted impacts of climate change; and
  • Influence governments, donors and other decision makers to promote and enable DRR through their policies, planning and funding.

Underpinning all of Oxfam’s resilience work is a strong belief that everyone has a basic right to life and security, and to a sustainable livelihood. This means addressing root causes of risk, vulnerability and disadvantage because the causes of inequality (such as poverty, gender discrimination and unequal power) make poor and marginalised people disproportionately vulnerable to shocks and stresses.

It also means ensuring the agency of people in all aspects of our work – in other words, ensuring that people are in charge of their own lives, and participating in decisions that affect their lives.