How holistic – converged – complementary are Disaster Risk Reduction and Resilience building programmes?

The drive for DRR and Resilience building has now been around for a few years. There is good literature on the topic – for example this recent book on Resilience that I find very good. I find, however, that inevitably the literature goes into sector-specific measures. I find this potentially risky, as more often than not projects end up covering specific sectors, either because agencies/government departments are specialised in sectors or because of sector-specific funding. Is it not necessary to look at a holistic approach to resilience and DRR and then determine what is needed to really fix it rather than building DRR/Resilience into sector-specific work which seems to be the common practice?
We often end up in this tunnel vision where we look at the country where we work as having special needs or being a special case. I don’t think with most topics this is the case. When I look at the work of local government in say European countries I see generally a holistic approach to disaster risk management. Of course there are sectors, and there are sector budgets, but most of the time there will be a group of people making the decisions as per the actual needs and gaps, and not externally driven. This is the benefit of having tax revenue which is not earmarked – and at the same time a strong argument for making sure that these groups (councils, committee, etc.) have the decision power and the funds to act for the good of the community. In this respect Kenya is a very interesting case – while they used to have the DSGs, District Steering Groups, to coordinate relief and development, with devolution they will now have real county councils with tax revenue that can be much more holistic in their approach. It is going to be interesting to see how they will perform – and how the development partners will support them. If we continue to offer them earmarked funds we will effectively block the potential they have to really strengthen community resilience to shocks.

An interesting addendum: Oxfam’s paper “The post-Hyogo Framework: What’s next for disaster risk reduction?” ( ) points firmly to a holistic, people-focused approach to DRR to mitigate the practice of working in silos.


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