In disaster prevention, investments in people also matter – expert

In these times of increasing climate-related risks, it is important for donors to boost their investments in disaster risk-reduction projects, particularly in less popular “soft-resilience building interventions,” a disaster prevention expert argues.

Only 0.75 percent of total humanitarian assistance provided by donors is spent on disaster prevention initiatives, according to Oxfam’s global adviser on disaster risk reduction, Chris Anderson, who cited the Global Humanitarian Assistance report for 2011.

Most investments are for large-scale infrastructure proejcts or on grand technology schemes, which, while “undoubtedly necessary,” should not be the only focus of disaster risk-reduction measures, Anderson notes.

Soft-resilience building interventions, which he describes as “investment that enables people themselves to become more resilient to the shocks and stresses they face, long after the concrete mixers or aid workers have gone home” should be given “equal if not higher value,” Anderson argues.

Anderson admits that calculating the cost benefit of such investments is trickier than doing cost-benefit analysis of infrastructure projects. But there are studies that have shown the longer-term benefits of the former, he says.

“Interventions that bring wider development gains and enable people to adapt to unpredictable risk and changes are generally going to be more cost effective and more sensible in relation to uncertainties such as climate change,” Anderson writes in a guest post on Oxfam’s “From Poverty to Power” blog.

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About the author

  • Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.