The International Day for Disaster Reduction aims to demonstrate the different and varied ways that people and communities are working to reduce disaster risks and raise awareness about the importance of Disaster Risk Reduction. This day also serves to encourage all citizens and governments to actively participate in building societies and nations that are more resilient to disasters.
The theme chosen for this year is “Live to Tell: Raising Awareness, Reducing Mortality”. This year’s edition will centre on the first of the seven targets of the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction: reducing disaster mortality. Spike
In its 5th Assessment report the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is the United Nations body focused on climate change made up of more than 2,000 scientists from 154 countries, indicates that there has been a rise in areas experiencing floods and an overall increase in the frequency of storms and hurricanes globally. The IPCC states that the number of heat waves and warm nights has increased in the past 60 years. They also say that the extent of areas affected by droughts has increased. Other reports estimate that in 2013 natural disasters (many of which are climate-change related) claimed 26,000 lives. While these are the global trends, the local impacts of climate change could be just as catastrophic if we do not put in place measures to adapt to these changes.
Climate projections indicate that the uMgungundlovu District Municipality (uMDM), will experience a warmer future with uncertain changes in mean annual rainfall, but with an increased number of flash flood and storm events due to an increase in short duration rainfall. With floods, severe storms and wildland fires already being among the main hazards currently faced by communities in the uMDM, the projections are of concern as they indicate an increased risk of these climate-driven events, and do not exclude the potential for an increase in drought events.
The uMDM, in partnership with SANBI is implementing the uMngeni Resilience Project (URP) with its overall objectives being to reduce the vulnerability of communities and small scale farmers in the uMDM to the impacts of climate change. One of the interventions of the URP which deals directly with disaster reduction is to develop early warning and response systems which will improve preparedness and adaptive capacity of local communities and small scale farmers, drawing on and integrating scientific and local knowledge. This intervention will refine and extend existing Early Warning Systems for flooding, storms, wildland fires and drought conditions in the uMDM. It will also support the piloting of protocols and processes for this information to be provided timeously to local communities, and the development of local-level responses. Importantly, this component will simultaneously support top-town and bottom-up activities, so that meteorological data and early warnings reach vulnerable communities who are empowered to respond appropriately, thus enhancing their local-level resilience to climate risk. In addition, the information will allow for an expansion of the role of the existing municipal disaster management division to include a more proactive approach that includes risk reduction and disaster prevention.