What is DRR?

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) includes activities that will minimize disaster-related losses of life, property or assets, and environment. Such activities are also described as mitigation measures. Mitigation activities aim to reduce the impacts or effects of unavoidable disasters. Mitigation measures include building codes, vulnerability analyses updates, zoning and land use management, building use regulations and safety codes, preventive health care, and public awareness and education.

Click here to view some key concepts and terms on disaster and DRR.

Some specific examples of disaster risk reduction or mitigation activities:

  • Strengthening buildings or incorporation of hazard resistance in structures to render them more resistant against typhoons, floods, and earthquakes;
  • Changing agricultural crop cycles so that it matures and are harvested before flood or typhoon season;
  • Restriction of activities in high-risk areas; and
  • Economic diversification to allow losses in one sector to be offset by increased output in other areas.

Both mitigation and prevention depend on the incorporation of appropriate measures in national, regional, and community development planning. Its effectiveness also depends on the availability of information on hazards, emerging risks, and the counter measures to be taken. It also includes the shaping of public policies and plans that either modify the causes of disasters or mitigate their effects on people, property, and infrastructure.

The disaster risk reduction process is comprised of five steps: risk identification, risk analysis, prioritization of risks, treatment of risks, and monitoring and evaluation.

Risk Identification
This step seeks to identify the hazards and the potential threats they may pose. Comprehensive identification using a well-structured systematic process is critical, because a risk that is not identified at this stage may be excluded from further analysis. The aim of risk identification is to develop a comprehensive list of sources of risks and events that might
have an impact on the community. The list should be comprehensive as unidentified risks can pose a major threat to the community. Having identified the possible risks, it is necessary to consider possible causes and scenarios, as there are many ways an event can occur. Approaches used to identify risks include checklists, judgments based on experience and records, flowcharts, brainstorming, systems analysis, scenario analysis and system engineering techniques.

Risk Analysis
Risk analysis aims to establish an understanding of the level of risk and its nature. It involves consideration of the sources of risk, their positive and negative consequences, and the likelihood that those consequences may occur. Factors that affect consequences and likelihood may be identified. Risk is analyzed by combining consequences and their likelihood. Identify the existing processes, devices or practices that act to minimize negative risks or enhance positive risks and assess their strength and weaknesses. The magnitude of consequences of an event, should it occur, and the likelihood of the event and its associated consequences, are assessed. These will be considered in the context of the existing strategies and controls. Consequences and likelihood are combined to produce a level of risk.

Risk Prioritization
The purpose of risk prioritization is to analyze and identify priority areas for action. Decisions may include whether a risk needs treatment, whether an activity should be undertaken, and what should be the priorities for treatment. Decisions would be based on the level of risk, specified consequences, the likelihood of specified events or outcomes, and the overall effect of multiple events. In some circumstances, the risk prioritization may lead to a decision to undertake further analysis.

Risk Treatment
Risk prioritization provides a list of risks requiring treatment. Risk treatment involves identifying strategies for treating these risks, evaluating those options, preparing treatment plans, and implementing them. Before appropriate treatment actions can be determined, the analysis of each risk may need to be revisited and extended to draw out the information needed to identify and explore different treatment options. It is particularly important to identify the causes of the risks so these are treated and not just the symptoms. Risk treatment may itself introduce new risks that need to be identified, assessed, treated, and monitored.

Monitoring and Evaluation
Monitoring is conducted to supervise the progress on implementation of the disaster risk management process. Evaluation is organized to periodically investigate the progress and analyze its impact and achievements. Monitoring and evaluation is an essential and integral part of managing risk, and is one of the most important steps of the risk management process. It is necessary to monitor risks, the effectiveness and appropriateness of the strategies and management systems set up to implement risk treatments and the risk management plans as a whole. This process should be continuous and dynamic.

TERMS AND CONCEPTS

In understanding the concept of disaster risk, it is important to grasp the following terms:

Capacities . A combination of all strengths and resources available within a community, society or organization that can reduce the level of risk, or effects of a disaster. Capacity may include infrastructure and physical means, institutions, societal coping abilities, as well as human knowledge, skills and collective attributes such as social relationships, leadership and management. Capacity may also be described as capability.

Disaster. A serious disruption of the functioning of a community or a society involving widespread human, material, economic or environmental losses and impacts, which exceeds the ability of the affected community or society to cope using its own resources. Disasters are often described as a result of the combination of: the exposure to a hazard; the conditions of vulnerability that are present; and insufficient capacity or measures to reduce or cope with the potential negative consequences. Disaster impacts may include loss of life, injury, disease and other negative effects on human, physical, mental and social well-being, together with damage to property, destruction of assets, loss of services, social and economic disruption and environmental degradation.

Disaster Preparedness. The knowledge and capacities developed by governments, professional response and recovery organizations, communities and individuals to effectively anticipate, respond to, and recover from, the impacts of likely, imminent or current hazard events or conditions. Preparedness action is carried out within the context of disaster risk reduction and management and aims to build the capacities needed to efficiently manage all types of emergencies and achieve orderly transitions from response to sustained recovery. Preparedness is based on a sound analysis of disaster risk and good linkages with early warning systems, and includes such activities as contingency planning, stockpiling of equipment and supplies, the development of arrangements for coordination, evacuation and public information, and associated training and field exercises. These must be supported by formal institutional, legal and budgetary capacities.

Disaster Risk. The potential disaster losses in lives, health status, livelihood, assets and services, which could occur to a particular community or a society over some specified future time period.

Disaster Risk Assessment. A methodology to determine the nature and extent of risk by analyzing potential hazards and evaluating existing conditions of vulnerability that together could potentially harm exposed people, property, services, livelihood and the environment on which they depend. Risk assessments with associated risk mapping include: a review of the technical characteristics of hazards such as their location, intensity, frequency and probability; the analysis of exposure and vulnerability including the physical, social, health, economic and environmental dimensions; and the evaluation of the effectiveness of prevailing and alternative coping capacities in respect to likely risk scenarios.

Disaster Risk Reduction. The concept and practice of reducing disaster risks through systematic efforts to analyze and manage the causal factors of disasters, including through reduced exposures to hazards, lessened vulnerability of people and property, wise management of land and the environment, and improved preparedness for adverse events.

Disaster Risk Reduction and Management. The systematic process of using administrative directives, organizations, and operational skills and capacities to implement strategies, policies and improved coping capacities in order to lessen the adverse impacts of hazards and the possibility of disaster. Prospective disaster risk reduction and management refers to risk reduction and management activities that address and seek to avoid the development of new or increased disaster risks, especially if risk reduction policies are not put in place.

Hazard. A dangerous phenomenon, substance, human activity or condition that may cause loss of life, injury or other health impacts, property damage, loss of livelihood and services, social and economic disruption, or environmental damage.

Risk. The probability that negative consequences may arise when hazards interact with vulnerable areas, people, property, and environment.

Risk Reduction Measures. Various activities, projects, and programs that communities may identify after assessing and analyzing the risks that they face. These measures are specifically intended to reduce the current and prevent future risks in the community.

Vulnerability .  The characteristics and circumstances of a community, system or asset that make it susceptible to the damaging effects of a hazard. Vulnerability may arise from various physical, social, economic, and environmental factors such as poor design and construction of buildings, inadequate protection of assets, lack of public information and awareness, limited official recognition of risks and preparedness measures, and disregard for wise environmental management.

Definitions were taken from the “The Philippine Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Act” (Republic Act 10121).