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Disaster Risk Reduction. A review of DRR work by DEC Member Agencies in response to the 2004 Tsunami

This review report from the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC) examines whether its vision of a more long-lasting impact had been achieved in terms of strengthening the 2004 Tsunami-affected population’s resilience to future environmental shocks and disasters in Sri Lanka, India and Indonesia. Its purpose is to inform future disaster responses by identifying lessons learnt. It focuses on the concepts of disaster risk reduction (DRR) and building/strengthening community resilience.

The review notes the following key achievements:

  • at the community level, there has been significant progress towards establishing grassroots institutions linked to the government at district level in all the countries
  • there is greater awareness about disasters and communities have been trained in safer living
  • health and hygiene education have improved sanitation practices with positive impact on public health issues
  • on top of village level DRR and disaster preparedness, civil society must play a greater role in advocating for DRR-related issues at the governments at meso- and macro levels
  • livelihoods interventions in the latter stages of the Tsunami response were highly effective.

The report presents the following overall findings:

  • reducing risks to future disasters has become a more prominent aspect of DEC members’ recovery programming
  • understanding of hazards and vulnerability is increasing among the local partners and some communities
  • governments and communities are acknowledging the role played by NGOs in rebuilding livelihoods
  • DEC members have worked with communities and local authorities in creating awareness about disaster preparedness, mitigation and early warning which are now widely understood in the Tsunami-hit areas.

The report highlights the following lessons learnt from the review:

  • effective interventions on DRR have the potential to strengthen grassroots institutions at the local level, making local governance more inclusive and participatory
  • interventions which are based on strong partnership and links with local organisations including private sector were far more likely to succeed than one-off asset distributions
  • disaster preparedness has been mainly focused on preparedness for emergency response, and not enough attention and investment has gone into early warning, preventive and mitigation measures and recurring disasters like floods and droughts
  • a great deal of training and capacity building activities are carried out by DEC members, but more systematic, collaborative, and public research and learning efforts are yet to emerge.