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International spending on disaster risk reduction (DRR) requires dramatic review

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Today, our partner programme GHA have launched a new report: Disaster risk reduction: spending where it should count. The report provides a comprehensive view of the levels of international DRR spending, placed in the context of need and vulnerability, and reveals the shockingly low levels of investment and inequities of funding in this area at a time when the need for enhanced focus on the reduction of risk is paramount.

Recent disasters such as the Pakistan floods, the Haiti earthquake and the famine in the Horn of Africa have raised substantial debate around the need for more strategic investment in disaster risk reduction within aid programmes; the impact of these disasters could arguably have been lessened and recovery quickened if risk had been reduced before the event, which could have resulted in lower requirements for assistance later on.

This new report examines the levels of donor investment in disaster risk reduction in the top 40 humanitarian recipients over the last 10 years, and compares and contrasts these totals with overall aid figures. Questions are posed about the equity of this funding, and whether it is being appropriately directed to meet needs. All this is in the context of a current model of year on year increase of humanitarian expenditure in the same countries, and a humanitarian system which is increasingly under pressure (aid from governments reached US$12.4 billion in 2010, the highest figure on record, and for the first time in five years the level of needs met fell significantly). The sustainability of this is questionable. The report argues that there is a clear need for a shift in the focus of spending. 

Some headline figures for the top 40 humanitarian recipients, 2000-2009: Only US$3.7 billion out of a total US$363 billion of official development assistance (ODA) went to reduce disaster risk; 1% of all development aid is directed at DRR. Four countries alone (Pakistan, Indonesia, India and Bangladesh) accounted for 75% of all DRR funding. In 2009, 68% of DRR financing came from humanitarian funds.

At a time when humanitarian needs are at an historic high, and donors are under considerable pressure to spend less and prioritise value for money, a reassessment of spending is essential. This report reveals the critical need for a revised financing model which places greater emphasis upon the reduction of risk, based on comprehensive assessments of need and appropriate prioritisation of funding, as well as improvements in the quality of reporting.

View, download, or print the report. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the report, or to speak to the report’s authors, please do get in touch.

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