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Reducing disaster risk

Disaster Risk Reduction (DDR) can target any or all components of risk - the hazard, exposure, vulnerability and its underlying causes.

The activities of risk reduction can, therefore, be seen in three key areas:

  • Corrective risk reduction: which seeks to reduce existing risks.
  • Prospective risk management: which aims to avoid exacerbating existing risks or new risks.
  • Compensatory risk reduction: which supports the social and economic capacities of individuals and societies in the face of residual risk that cannot be effectively reduced.

Reducing risk means identifying and reducing the underlying drivers of risk, which are particularly related to increasing exposure and vulnerability resulting from poor economic and urban development choices and practice, degradation of the environment, poverty and inequality.

The following table shows which risk reduction strategies can be utilised for each component of risk and at each phase of the disaster cycle.

Table to show mechanisms of risk reduction. Select the image to view a screen readable PDF of this image

Select the image to see an enlarged version.

Population migration, urbanisation, political shifts and climate change can all exacerbate conditions of hazard, exposure and vulnerability. DRR must use foresight and be proactive to prevent the creation of new risks.

Let’s take a hypothetical example. The national DRR strategy of a country identifies challenges of drought and food insecurity, particularly affecting those in the agricultural sector as demonstrated by:

  • Decreasing crop yields
  • Loss of income for farmers and labourers

A strategy of improved irrigation at scale could reduce risks. Such a strategy option must consider the future water availability, quality and demands as a result of water abstraction, population growth and climate impacts on the wider population.

A balanced approach of crop diversification, soil productivity management and irrigation may be deemed less likely to increase the population’s exposure to water and food insecurity and their vulnerability in the long term.

Your task

Select one of the hazards that we have introduced and identify how an initial option for its mitigation may not be the best solution for the reduction of risk without creating secondary risks.

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This article is from the free online course:

Disaster Risk Reduction: An Introduction

Coventry University