NATIONS WORLD DISASTER REDUCTION CAMPAIGN 2001
COUNTERING DISASTERS, TARGETING VULNERABILITY
The Role of Science and Technology
in Disaster Reduction
Communities in Reducing Disasters
Every year, the Secretariat
for the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) organizes
a worldwide information campaign destined to inform people from all horizons
about disaster reduction, giving practical examples of what societies
can do to be less vulnerable to natural hazards such as earthquakes, hurricanes,
droughts, floods or landslides for example.
The information campaigns,
called World Disaster Reduction Campaigns, focus on a different theme
every year. This year, the general theme of the Campaign is Countering
Disasters; Targeting Vulnerability. There are also three sub-themes
which are The Role of Science and Technology in Disaster Reduction,
Building Disaster Resistant Infrastructures, and Mobilizing
Local Communities in Reducing Disasters.
The information material
which is currently being developed as part of the Campaign -information
kit, poster, radio programme- follows the theme and sub-themes of the
Campaign; general information about recent disasters and their costs,
projections for the future if current trends continue and a series of
definitions of key concepts will form one part of the information material
while specific practical cases illustrating vulnerability reduction will
come under the three sub-themes mentioned above.
The World Disaster
Reduction Campaigns culminate on the second Wednesday of October, which
the United Nations has set as the International Day for Disaster Reduction.
This year, the Day falls on 10 October 2001. Special celebrations therefore
take place worldwide, based on the campaign theme and sub-themes, to promote
awareness and make information available about disaster reduction.
The ISDR Secretariat
has issued a detailed campaign announcement which is now available (contact
As part of the Campaign, the ISDR Secretariat also offers suggestions
for local activities and events destined to give ideas on how to promote
the Campaign themes at the regional, national and local level. These include
the organization of seminars and information sessions and the mobilization
of the media. Moreover, specific sets of guidelines1
on how to participate in two risk mapping contests are also available;
one for children and one for local communities. Risk maps are part of
the best tools to target the vulnerability of a given area and are therefore
a useful exercise in the practical application of risk reduction measures.
As of the end of July,
the printed Campaign material will be sent out worldwide. Any material
can be obtained from the address mentioned below.
The ISDR Secretariat highly encourages contributions to the Campaign in
the form of descriptions of successful disaster reduction initiatives
and projects on the main theme and sub-themes, as well as participation
through the risk mapping contests or the organization of special events.
For any further details,
questions on how to participate and to obtain information material, please
do not hesitate to contact:
Promotion and Awareness Officer, ISDR Geneva Office
tel: 41 22 917 97 06 fax: 41 22 917 90 98
ISDR Unit for Latin
America and the Caribbean
The guidelines for the risk mapping contest for local communities were
developed in collaboration with the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO).
Mapping Contest for Children
- With the
help of your teacher, look up the meaning of the following words:
Disaster, Hazard, and Vulnerability. Definitions are on the following
- Find out
from books, archives and ask around in your community what major
disasters have happened in your area in the past. Identify hazards
(like floods, earthquakes, storms, landslides, volcanic eruptions
or others) that could affect your city or village.
disasters in your community with the mayor, firemen, the police,
emergency personnel, doctors, social workers, and journalists.
- Draw the
most important buildings; schools, hospitals, fire services, houses,
police stations as well as potentially dangerous buildings such
as factories, fragile buildings, dams, power plants. Use a different
symbol for each building. Map out roads, rivers, power lines,
sewarage works and dumps. Use different colors to show these areas.
- For each
hazard, identify how buildings would be affected (a little, badly,
completely destroyed) and use a different symbol for each degree
where the people are who will need most help in case of a disaster
(Nursing homes, hospitals, nursery schools for example).
possible solutions to diminish the risk.
- Present your
findings to your teacher and send us your map so that you can
enter the contest and we can show your map everywhere in the world.
Contest for Local Communities
What Is a
Community Risk Map?
A risk map is a map of a community or geographical zone that identifies
the places and the buildingshomes, schools, health facilities
and othersthat might be adversely affected in the event of
hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, volcanic eruptions, landslides,
and other natural hazards and related technological or environmental
is a group effort. Many people with various kinds of expertiseemergency
management, geology, meteorology, history, or simply a good knowledge
of the locality participate in the effort by providing their
own input about which places in the community are vulnerable to
Who Can Participate?
- Local healthcare
- Local Emergency
- Any other
groups wishing to participate and organize themselves to do so.
the Risk Map Include?
It should be a map of the community or area at risk indicating the
most significant facilities, such as schools, hospitals, churches,
the Red Cross, fire-fighters or police headquarters, the City Hall
or other municipal buildings.
The Risk Map should also include especially hazardous buildings
in the area, such as factories or other work places. The different
types of buildings should be identified by a distinctive symbol.
The map may also include the main streets, roads, and bridges; significant
electricity and water supply lines; areas exposed to flooding or
landslides due to excessive deforestation or any other reason; and
densely populated areas that are vulnerable to natural disasters.
Different colors may be used to indicate the degree of risk: severe,
moderate or light.
the Risk Map Be Produced?
a series of walks or drives around the community or the area under
consideration to identify areas or features at risk.
- Hold meetings
to discuss the findings of this reconnaissance effort and the
reasons why some
areas are considered at risk.
possible solutions to reduce risk.
in the drawing of the map.
the Prizes Be?
The winners of the contests will receive grants towards disaster
reduction projects in their schools and local communities.
In addition, the winning mapsand any others considered noteworthywill
be published in a commemorative volume and will be exhibited.
All maps submitted will become the property of the ISDR Secretariat
and will not be returned to the contestants. Participants are encouraged
to keep copies of their maps and distribute them as widely as possible
in their community.
Please send your Risk Maps
by 21 september 2001
Risk Mapping Contest
Palais des Nations CH 1211
Geneva 10 Switzerland.
What is a
comprise phenomena such as earthquakes; volcanic activity; land-slides;
tsunamis, tropical cyclones and other severe storms; tornadoes and
high winds; river floods and coastal flooding; wildfires and associated
haze; drought; sand/dust storms; infestations.
What is a
A natural disaster
is the result of the impact of a natural hazard on a socio-economic
system with a given level of vulnerability, which prevents the affected
society from coping adequately with this impact. Natural hazards
themselves do not necessarily lead to disasters. It is only their
interaction with people and their environment that generates impacts,
which may reach disastrous proportions. The ISDR encompasses technical
and environmental disasters only when caused by natural hazards.
What is vulnerability
to disasters is a status resulting from human action or from an
inherent situation such as poverty. It describes the degree to which
a society is threatened by the impact of natural hazards. The degree
of vulnerabiliy depends on the condition of human settlements and
their infrastructure, the way in which public policy and administration
are engaged in disaster management, the level of information and
education available about hazards and how to deal with them.
societys vulnerability to disasters?
have always experienced major natural disasters, they have, in recent
years, been increasingly affected by their adverse impact. In early
2001 alone, two severe consecutive earthquakes in El Salvador and
one in India, together with recurring floods in Mozambique caused
significant loss of life and damage to economic and social infrastructures
in these countries. This global development is directly linked to
a number of trends such as increasing poverty, population growth
and density particularly in the context of rapid urbanization, environmental
degradation and climate change.
What is Disaster
counter the increasing impact of natural hazards world-wide exist.
The knowledge and technology necessary to apply these solutions
are widely available. Disaster reduction is the sum of all the measures,
which can be undertaken to reduce the vulnerability of a socio-economic
system to natural hazards. The measures cover a wide spectrum of
activities ranging from avoiding disasters all together to measures
aimed at limiting the severity of a disaster when it strikes. Sound
information and political commitment are the basis of successful
disaster reduction measures. This is an ongoing process which is
not limited to a single disaster. It seeks to motivate societies
at risk to become engaged in conscious disaster management, beyond
the traditional response to disasters. Disaster reduction is multi-sectoral
and interdisciplinary in nature and involves a wide variety of interrelated
activities at the local, national, regional and international level.
Strategy for Disaster Reduction
The UN has established
the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction as a global framework
for action with a view to enabling all societies to become resilient
to the effects of natural hazards and related technological and
environmental disasters, in order to reduce human, economic and
social losses. It involves a conceptual shift from an emphasis on
disaster response to the management of risk through the integration
of disaster reduction into sustainable development. The implementation
of the Strategy is premised on the establishment of partnerships
between governments, non-governmental organizations, UN agencies,
the scientific community, the media as well as other relevant stakeholders
in the disaster reduction community. The four goals of the Strategy
are to increase public awareness about disaster reduction, to obtain
commitment from public authorities, to stimulate inter-disciplinary
and inter-sectoral partnerships, and to improve the scientific knowledge
of the causes of natural disasters and the consequences of the impact
of natural hazards. The UN General Assembly has mandated two additional
tasks which are directly relevant to disaster reduction; the continuance
of international cooperation to reduce the impacts of El Niño
and La Niña and the strengthening of disaster reduction capacity
through Early Warning measures.