Disaster Risk Reduction

 Earthquake damage in Kathmandu valley. On 25 April, a 7.9 magnitude earthquake struck in Nepal, causing widespread devastation and loss of life. The disaster is being called the worst to hit the country since 1934. Photo: Laxmi Prasad Ngakhusi/UNDP Nepal

The Asia and the Pacific is highly prone to natural disasters and experiences a disproportionate share of loss of life and impact on socio-economic activities. Vulnerability to natural hazards in the region is on a rapid rise, with more than 50 major disasters of both geological and climatological origin affecting millions of people since the Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. The Nepal Earthquake in April 2015 also caused widespread damage and loss to thousands of lives and homes. It is widely believed that climate change will affect the frequency and severity of extreme events in the region. 


UNDP assists governments, public authorities and communities in carrying out activities to reduce disaster. It helps by strengthening institutional and legislative systems, expanding community-based disaster risk management, and supporting better planning for recovery after disasters. UNDP also provides support to integrating disaster risk reduction into development planning and building knowledge about urban risk management and climate adaptation. In high disaster-risk countries, UNDP establishes working relationships with relevant offices and local communities in order to anchor disaster risk reduction activities into development planning.


Highlights, facts and figures

  • With UNDP support, national disaster and loss databases are operational in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Iran, Orissa and Tamil Nadu states in India. Cambodia, Myanmar, Viet Nam and Lao PDR are establishing databases as a tool to monitor disaster risk and prepare disaster management plans, and as criteria for allocation of funds, based on levels of risks. (See Infographic)
  • UNDP has established a few noteworthy regional partnerships in addressing the complex challenges of disaster preparedness, conflict prevention and sustainable recovery: with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), by contributing to the Declaration between the UN and ASEAN which calls for improved cooperation in preparedness, response and recovery; with the Regional Integrated Multi Hazard Early Warning System in Asia and Africa (RIMES), through a regional initiative on management of climate variability to advance climate risk management; and with the Intergovernmental Coordination Group for the Indian Ocean Tsunami Warning and Mitigation System (ICG-IOTWS) through development of Indian Ocean-wide tsunami warning system and supporting risk assessment processes in coastal communities.
  • The tsunami warning system for the entire Indian Ocean region, fully functional since 2011, was tested in real life in April 2012 when an 8.7 earthquake struck North Sumatra. The tsunami early warning centers in Indonesia, India and Australia analyzed the seismic data and disseminated tsunami warning bulletins within minutes leading to large-scale evacuations. The response was a major change from 2004 when none of the countries had any mechanisms in place to issue tsunami warnings and over 230,000 lives were lost. UNDP played a crucial role in establishing and strengthening the tsunami warning system by supporting regional and national technical and policy interventions and institutions to coordinate their response to the tsunami threat. An evaluation in 2012 highlighted UNDP’s significant contributions to the current level of preparedness and resilience of Indonesia, Sri Lanka and other Indian Ocean countries against tsunami and coastal hazards. The evaluation recognized UNDP’s critical regional role as a much needed catalyst that should be continued.

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