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Disaster Risk Management and Climate Change Adaptation in South Asia

This brief focuses on how disaster risk management approaches are taking longer term climate change perspectives. The intention is to highlight, through a series of case studies and research summaries, some best practice/management practices implemented in South Asia and offer recommendations for both practitioners and policy makers.

Disaster risk reduction (DRR) aims to reduce risk and minimise the effects of a disaster by building safe homes in flood-risk areas, implementing early warning systems, or developing saline-resistant varieties of rice, for example. It is now widely accepted that climate change has a direct impact on the prevalence and seriousness of disasters. Higher rainfall, changing temperatures and rising sea levels are likely to make natural disasters more frequent. Adaptation to climate change and DRR both seek to reduce vulnerability and achieve sustainability. Efforts are growing to link DRR and climate change adaptation more closely in policy and practice.

This issue of Protifolon focuses on how local communities in six countries in South Asia (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Bhutan) are managing risk. It looks at how they are coping with and preparing for possible disaster in their villages. Local communities are often the most directly affected by disasters but they also possess important local knowledge, passed down through generations, to manage risk. The poorest are the most vulnerable to risk. They will probably have no savings or safety nets and no alternative sources of income or food if, for example, a flash flood destroys their home and livelihood. Reducing people’s vulnerability at the community level – being better prepared – means they will be more resilient to natural hazards. There are many types of DRR activities, some of which are described in more detail in the articles presented.