What is it?
Disaster preparedness consists of a set of measures undertaken in advance by governments, organisations, communities, or individuals to better respond and cope with the immediate aftermath of a disaster, whether it be human-induced or caused by natural hazards. The objective is to reduce the loss of life and livelihoods.
Simple initiatives can go a long way, for instance in training for search and rescue, establishing early warning systems, developing contingency plans, or stockpiling equipment and supplies.
Disaster preparedness plays an important role in building the resilience of communities.
Why is this important?
With increasing population growth, rapid and unplanned urbanisation, climate change, environmental degradation and widespread poverty, a growing number of people and assets are exposed to disasters.
Moreover, many of these events occur in fragile and conflict-affected states, thus increasing the complexity of crises and overburdening countries experiencing violent conflict or fragile governance.
However, improved practice and response mechanisms save lives and strengthen the countries and communities’ ability to reduce the impact of disasters.
Understanding the occurrence and frequency of natural hazards, as well as the risks, vulnerabilities and potential impact on people and assets, helps to improve preparedness.
Instead of providing emergency response only, international efforts should help governments and communities invest in understanding risks and building preparedness capacities for pre-emptive and early action. Disaster preparedness is cost-effective and saves aid money.
These concepts are agreed upon and firmly embedded into international commitments, including the 2015 Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement (2015), the Agenda 2030, the New Urban Agenda, and the Grand Bargain commitments.
How are we helping?
The European Commission is at the forefront of promoting risk reduction and anticipatory actions. Signatory to the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction (2015-2030), the European Commission supports adopting a risk-informed approach to all EU policies and programmes.
The European Commission contributes to Sendai Priority 4 by ensuring that disaster preparedness is systematically embedded into humanitarian aid programmes and projects across all sectors.
To support this work, in 2021, the EU’s Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations department published a new Disaster Preparedness Guidance Note in consultation with partners. The document explains its approach to disaster preparedness and risk-informed humanitarian response.
The approach promotes multi-hazard preparedness and anticipatory action as a means for a quicker and more effective response. It focuses not only on disasters related to natural hazards but also on human-induced threats like conflict and violence, epidemics, and biological hazards.
Under this approach, the EU aims to mainstream preparedness and risk reduction measures across all its humanitarian programming.
In addition, the EU allocates more than € 75 million of its annual humanitarian funding to targeted preparedness actions. This funding strengthens the ability of national and local preparedness systems to respond earlier and better.
The EU invests in early warning systems, monitoring and building national and local capacities for the response.
Some examples of disaster preparedness in EU-funded humanitarian aid interventions are:
- Support communities in Bangladesh to better forecast and act ahead of monsoon floods
- Advice local governments in the Philippines in scaling up inclusive cash assistance programmes that reach marginalised urban communities affected by disasters
- Support national and local governments in Mozambique in using drone and satellite data for disaster preparedness and to assess the extent of people’s needs following a natural hazard
- Strengthening emergency preparedness and response in the Caribbean through better coordination of humanitarian logistics in the event of a natural hazard.
More examples of the EU’s action in disaster preparedness are available in the Compendium of experiences published in 2020.
Each disaster preparedness strategy and funding allocation includes a defined exit strategy where local capacities are deemed adequate or where local governments or development partners can take over.
Additionally, the EU engages and supports local and national government structures in all countries worldwide through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism, notably within the areas of prevention and preparedness.
Last updated: 22/07/2022
Picture: © European Union (photographer: Silvio Balladares)
Facts & figures
The EU is supporting early warning and monitoring systems, and funds projects to strengthen disaster response capacities at national and local levels
In 2021, the EU invested €76 million in 101 disaster preparedness actions in 30 countries.