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Reducing the risks of disaster

12 October 2012

Humanitarian agencies are always amongst the first on the scene when disaster strikes, but what can they do to stop disaster turning to crisis in the first place?

Earthquakes, floods and other natural disasters are difficult to predict and can have devastating effects. While little can be done to stop many natural disasters occurring, Trócaire works hard to try to prevent disasters turning into full-blown humanitarian emergencies.

Two of the listeners tasked with listening out for emergencies in the Machanga District, Mozambique

Esta Francisco (37) and Velancia Francisco (28), two of the listeners tasked with listening out for emergencies in the Emergency response association of Josina Machel, Gavuro, Machanga District, Mozambique. February 2011.Photo:  © Hu O'Reilly.

 

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is a type of project that helps to protect communities against unexpected disasters. Trócaire is engaged in DRR projects all over the world, especially in areas where tropical storms and flooding are regular occurrences.

By helping communities plan how to protect themselves against disaster, these projects can save lives and prevent widespread destruction of land.

While the Irish public are always extremely generous in donating money to emergency appeals, we prefer to use some of our regular donations to try to stop it ever getting to that stage.

Whether it is building earthquake-resistant housing in Haiti or introducing farming methods to reduce the impacts of storms in Central America, our DRR projects are based on the old saying ‘prevention is better than cure’.

Pakistan DRR

Ghulam Mustafa from the Manchar Lake region, who was trained by the Pakistani Fisher Folk (PFF) and Trócaire in emergency response. Photo: Eoghan Rice.
 

When flooding hit Pakistan in the summer of 2010, our DRR projects saved lives.

We had been working with communities near Manchar Lake in the Sindh province to prepare them for flooding.

People in these villages were trained how to evacuate and where to evacuate to. Through a colour-coded flag system, the entire community knew the risk of flooding at any time. When the red flags were finally raised, the 20,000 residents knew where to go and how to get their safely.

The result was that when the flooding did hit Manchar Lake, the people there evacuated with no loss of life.

"Because of all the training we received, we were able to evacuate everybody safely with no loss of life," says Ghulam Mustafa, a Manchar Lake resident. "We are very thankful to Trocaire and to the Irish people for helping us in our time of need. It saved our lives."

A simple project with incredible results.

October 12th marks International Disaster Risk Reduction Day. Join us on Twitter on the hashtag #ReducingRisks as we celebrate the projects that prevent disaster turning to crisis.