International Day for Disaster Reduction
Knowledge for Life
Today marks the international day for disaster reduction; raising awareness of the work done throughout the world to prevent and reduce the impact of disasters as well as to help those communities who are affected.
The focus this year is on the traditional, indigenous and local knowledge which complement modern science and add to an individual’s and societies’ resilience. Local knowledge passed down through generations can often point to key early warning signals in nature and is therefore vital to ensuring early action is taken to mitigate the impact of both slow and fast onset disasters such as droughts, heatwaves, storms and floods. When combined with scientific understanding and research, local knowledge massively furthers the capability of disaster reduction efforts in policy and on the ground.
Over the last four years, Wilton Park has contributed extensively to reducing the risk of disasters, working closely with many organisations including a three year partnership with the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA).
The partnership focused on disaster risk reduction (DRR) and humanitarian related activities through dialogue, knowledge dissemination and capacity building of local organisations, primarily the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC) in Thailand and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Nairobi.
A number of conferences and workshops were held that provided in-country training and sessions for disaster reduction and response personnel, covering key issues such as:
- Disaster risk reduction in Asia: identifying and maximising opportunities for action, (2011)
- Challenges in flood risk management in urban areas of river deltas in South and South East Asia, (2013)
- Disaster prevention, preparedness and response in South and Southeast Asia: maximizing a gender-inclusive approach, (2014)
- Strengthening technological capacities and information access for improving disaster risk reduction in the Horn of Africa (2014)
These events run in partnership with the Norwegian MFA have consistently included a strong push towards inclusion of local, indigenous peoples to utilise their experiences and bring their knowledge into the forefront of disaster reduction policymaking. The importance of engaging with local actors on a more equal footing has also been stressed by the recently released 2015 World Disasters Report, published by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.
We remain committed to exploring the most effective means within disaster reduction alongside our partners from all around the world, ensuring that the knowledge, experience and skills of local, indigenous and traditional peoples continues to inform better policymaking.