Disaster Risk Management and Disaster Risk Reduction

Disaster Risk Management (DRM)

The systematic process of using administrative decisions, organization, operational skills and capacities to implement policies, strategies, and coping capacities of the society and communities to lessen the impacts of natural hazards and related environmental and technological disasters. This comprises all forms of activities, including structural and non-structural measures to avoid (prevention) or to limit (mitigation and preparedness) adverse effects of hazards. 


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Risk: The probability of harmful consequences, or expected losses (deaths, injuries, property, livelihoods, economic activity disrupted or environment damaged) resulting from interactions between natural or human-induced hazards and vulnerable conditions. Beyond expressing a possibility of physical harm, it is crucial to recognize that risks are inherent or can be created or exist within social systems. It is important to consider the social contexts in which risks occur and that people, therefore, do not necessarily share the same perceptions of risks and their causes.

Vulnerability: The conditions determined by physical, social, economic, and environmental factors or processes, which increase the susceptibility of a community to the impact of hazards.


Six Types of Disaster Risk Management

United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNDRR) mentioned the following six types of DRM/DRR, and these are mentioned in the following.

Disaster risk management is the application of disaster risk reduction policies and strategies to prevent new disaster risk, reduce existing disaster risk and manage residual risk, contributing to the strengthening of resilience and reduction of disaster losses. Disaster risk management actions can be distinguished between prospective disaster risk management, corrective disaster risk management and compensatory disaster risk management, also called residual risk management.

Prospective disaster risk management activities address and seek to avoid the development of new or increased disaster risks. They focus on addressing disaster risks that may develop in future if disaster risk reduction policies are not put in place. Examples are better land-use planning or disaster-resistant water supply systems.

Corrective disaster risk management activities address and seek to remove or reduce disaster risks that are already present and which need to be managed and reduced now. Examples are the retrofitting of critical infrastructure or the relocation of exposed populations or assets.

Compensatory disaster risk management activities strengthen the social and economic resilience of individuals and societies in the face of residual risk that cannot be effectively reduced. They include preparedness, response and recovery activities, but also a mix of different financing instruments, such as national contingency funds, contingent credit, insurance and reinsurance and social safety nets.

Community-based disaster risk management promotes the involvement of potentially affected communities in disaster risk management at the local level. This includes community assessments of hazards, vulnerabilities and capacities, and their involvement in planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of local action for disaster risk reduction.

Local and indigenous peoples’ approach to disaster risk management is the recognition and use of traditional, indigenous and local knowledge and practices to complement scientific knowledge in disaster risk assessments and for the planning and implementation of local disaster risk management.

Disaster risk management plans set out the goals and specific objectives for reducing disaster risks together with related actions to accomplish these objectives. They should be guided by the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015‑2030 and considered and coordinated within relevant development plans, resource allocations and programme activities. National-level plans need to be specific to each level of administrative responsibility and adapted to the different social and geographical circumstances that are present. The time frame and responsibilities for implementation and the sources of funding should be specified in the plan. Linkages to sustainable development and climate change adaptation plans should be made where possible.


Process of Disaster Risk Management

Most disaster responses can be characterised by two main things as command and control. These things happened when the community did not have any say about their needs in the past. Hence we can see many failures of projects in disaster response due to the lack of community participation. Many projects are failing to fulfil the minimum humanitarian help because of this community's non-involvement. However, several exceptional measures were taken to reduce the vulnerability or risks. A process of disaster risk management in which at-risk communities are actively engaged to reduce their vulnerabilities and enhance their capacities through;                                              

§  Identification
§  Analysis
§  Treatment
§  Monitoring And
§  Evaluation of disaster risks

On the other hand, UNDRR, 2017 and GFDRR, 2014 mentioned the following eight processes of disaster risk management, and these are mentioned in the following.


Efforts and measures to mitigate existing and emerging disaster risks (often less costly than disaster relief and response). For example, relocating exposed people and assets away from a potentially hazardous area.


The reduction or limitation of the negative effects of hazards and related disasters. For example, building flood defences, planting trees to stabilize slopes, and enforcing strict land use and building construction codes are all examples.


The process of formally or informally shifting the financial consequences of specific risks from one party to another in which a household, community, enterprise, or state authority obtains resources from the other party following a disaster in exchange for ongoing or compensatory social or financial benefits provided to that other party.


The ability of governments, professional response and recovery organizations, communities, and individuals to effectively anticipate, respond to and recover from the consequences of likely, imminent, or current hazard events or conditions. Installing early warning systems, identifying evacuation routes, and preparing emergency supplies are just a few examples.

Risks Identification

DRM is given a low priority because the damages and losses caused by historical disasters are often not widely known and because the potential damages and losses caused by future disasters (including infrequent but high-impact events) may not be known at all. Appropriate communication of robust risk information at the appropriate time can raise awareness and spark action.

Risk Reduction

Hazard and risk information can be used to inform a wide range of risk-reduction activities, from improving building codes and designing risk-reduction measures (such as flood and storm surge protection) to conducting macro-level risk assessments for various types of buildings (for prioritizing investment in reconstruction and retrofitting, for example).

Financial security

The financial and insurance industries needed to quantify the risk of comparatively rare high-impact natural hazard events, so disaster risk analysis was born. As governments seek to manage sovereign financial risk or support programs that manage individual financial risk (e.g., micro-insurance or household earthquake insurance).

Resilient rebuilding

Risk assessment can play a critical role in impact modelling before an event occurs (for example, in the days preceding a cyclone), or it can provide initial and rapid estimates of human, physical, and economic loss in the immediate aftermath of an event. Furthermore, risk information for resilient reconstruction must be available before an event occurs, because there is rarely a time after the event to collect the information needed to inform the resilient design and land-use plans.


Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR)

The conceptual frameworks of elements considered the possibilities to minimize vulnerabilities and disaster risks throughout a society, to avoid (prevention) or limit (mitigation and preparedness) the adverse impacts of hazards, within the broad context of sustainable development. 

Historically, dealing with disasters focused on emergency response, but by the end of the twentieth century, it was increasingly recognized that disasters are not natural (even if the associated hazard is) and that we can only prevent losses and mitigate the effects of disasters by reducing and managing conditions of hazard, exposure, and vulnerability. Because we cannot reduce the severity of natural disasters, the main opportunity for risk reduction is to reduce vulnerability and exposure. Reducing these two components of risk necessitates identifying and mitigating the underlying risk drivers, which are particularly related to poor economic and urban development choices and practices, environmental degradation, poverty and inequality, and climate change, all of which create and exacerbate hazards, exposure, and vulnerability conditions. Addressing these underlying risk drivers will reduce disaster risk, mitigate the effects of climate change, and, as a result, ensure the long-term viability of development.

Because disaster risk reduction is a component of sustainable development, it must involve all sectors of society, including the government, non-governmental organizations, and the professional and private sectors. As a result, it necessitates a people-centred, multi-sector approach to building resilience to multiple, cascading, and interacting hazards, as well as fostering a culture of prevention and resilience. As a result, DRM includes strategies to:

a) avoiding the creation of new risks;

b) address pre-existing dangers; and

c) risk should be shared and spread to avoid disaster losses being absorbed by other development outcomes and causing additional poverty.

After the launching of the international decade for disaster risk (IDNDR) followed by the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UNISDR), the term disaster risk reduction (DRR) was coined at the global level. The term gives the message of strengthening the anticipative, preventive and mitigative aspects of disaster management. At the same time, terminologies such as disaster management are no longer popular and become part of the status quo. 


UNISDR definition becomes the authoritative reference for the definition of disaster risk reduction (DRR). In the UNISDR glossary of terms published in 2009, DRR is defined as the concept and practice of reducing disaster risks through systematic efforts to analyse and manage the causal factors of disasters, including through reduced exposure to hazards, lessened vulnerability of people and property, wise management of land and the environment, and improved preparedness for adverse events. 

According to UNESCO, Climate change, urban pressure and lack of disaster preparedness, are increasingly transforming natural hazards, such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions or tsunamis into disastrous events causing life and economic losses. The risk of disasters caused by natural hazards is rising. Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) is increasing on the agenda of the Organisations of the UN System. While the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 is the roadmap for Disaster Risk Reduction, other global agendas including the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Climate Agreement, the New Urban Agenda and the Biodiversity Agenda have targets that cannot be attained without considering Disaster Risk Reduction. There are clear links between those international instruments.

Components of DRR 

a) Awareness and appraisal of risk, including analysis of hazards, capacity, and vulnerability, 

b) knowledge development, including education, training, research, and information, 

c) commitment to the institutional framework, including organisations, policy, legislation, and community actions (which is here translated into community-based disaster risk management/CBDRM), 

d) application of DRR measures such as environmental management, land use, urban planning, protection of critical facilities, application of science and technology, partnership and networking, financial instruments, and 

e) early warning system, including forecast, distribution of warning, preparedness measurement, and response capacity (UNISDR, 2004).


Process of DRR

Disaster risk reduction(DRR) or process consists of seven steps, and these are mentioned in the following;

1. Selection of the community         
2. Rapport building and understanding of the identified community
3. Participatory community risk assessment
4. Participatory action planning

5. Formation of Community Disaster Response Organization 

6. Community-led implementation of the project

7. Participatory monitoring and evaluation of the CBDRM project


Tools of Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) in Bangladesh

DRR tools have been developed by a range of institutions, including research centres, government agencies, the UN, NGOs, and IGOs. These include tools targeted for use at the international to the local levels, implemented in cooperation with diverse partners, and in response to numerous hazards. There are five tools of DRR which are discussed in the following.

Policy and institutions

It is critical that decision-makers at all levels are committed to disaster risk reduction so that resources and planning guidance is provided. Just as important is the participation and understanding of individuals at the local level where disasters are felt. This category includes the country’s overall policies, the legislative process, and the institutional framework for implementing measures. The tools that have been developed for policy and institutions are aimed at mainstreaming disaster risk reduction into development planning from the national to community level. This aims to bring about a “culture of safety and resilience”.

The Bangladesh Disaster Preparedness Centre (BDPC) was established in 1992 as Bangladesh’s first independent, local NGO focused solely on disaster risk reduction (DRR). BDPC set out to put vulnerable communities at the centre of disaster management, adopting a community-based approach, complemented by advocacy, policy advice and knowledge sharing. Twenty years later, change is evident. Disaster risk reduction has been integrated into policies and practices, disaster management committees have been formed from national to local levels of government and public awareness programs have been established. BDPC is continuing its strategy of community empowerment, knowledge promotion and advocacy.

Risk identification and early warning

This is a familiar area when thinking of disaster management activities—assessing the risks facing a community and determining which ones are likely to affect people. Science and technology are important in understanding the physical processes behind hazards and how they will interact with community infrastructure and activities. For example, an extensive network of monitoring technology may be required for meteorologists and hydrologists to gather data on climate hazards and to build a picture of climate change trends. At the local level, this information is supplemented by community members’ historical knowledge of events such as floods or droughts. Again, vulnerability must be added to the equation because the mere presence of a hazard does not automatically translate into a risk. Risk is the probability of harmful consequences, or expected losses (deaths, injuries, property, livelihoods, economic activity disrupted or environment damaged) resulting from interactions between natural or human-induced hazards and vulnerable conditions. Communities need information both on hazards and vulnerabilities to determine priorities for reducing their risk.

Knowledge management and education

Supporting the local community’s involvement is crucial for implementing strategies that will lead to a culture of safety. This area of disaster risk reduction includes managing the information and data that has been gathered, educating people about their risks, and building people’s capacity to devise and implement risk reduction measures. The information and knowledge should not flow in only one direction; planners must also learn about the community’s needs and wants so that they can better support development and risk reduction. These experiences can then be shared with other communities and successes replicated.


Reducing Underlying Risks

Risks must not only be identified and institutional capacity in place; action to reduce the factors that increase risk is necessary. This includes measures in environmental management, poverty reduction, protection of critical facilities, networking and partnerships, and financial and economic tools to ensure a safety net in case of disasters. Applications will be most effective if they build on local knowledge, respect local cultures, and provide multiple benefits. For example, conserving wetlands reduces risks through flood mitigation and storm protection while also providing livelihood support, water purification, and erosion control. Measures may strive to reduce the extent to which a planned development project will increase a community’s vulnerability. In this case, a risk assessment should be conducted as part of the project’s evaluation (e.g. planners for a waterfront property development should consider how sea-level rise and storms may affect future residents), much the same way an environmental impact assessment or cost-benefit analysis are now often included. There are also measures to reduce the risks already existing in infrastructure and systems throughout the world, for example through retrofitting or enforcing land use zones.

Preparedness and response

DRR preparedness and response tools are often used ahead of a disaster to be ready when a hazard strikes. Preparedness can mean having sufficient relief supplies and medical care, in addition to establishing coordination mechanisms between key organizations and individuals. This is the traditional realm of disaster management, which recent disasters like Hurricane Katrina have shown is extremely vital to limiting damage in the hours and days afterwards. The reconstruction and recovery period is the most opportune time to incorporate risk reduction. Political will and public awareness are high and often additional resources are available. However, there is great pressure to get homes assembled and infrastructure systems running very quickly so there can be a return to normalcy, with the result that DRR does not often take place during recovery. If risk reduction is not incorporated at this time, it’s likely that vulnerabilities will merely be rebuilt rather than reduced.

Preparedness and response tools may include guidelines for needs assessments and recovery planning, standards for humanitarian relief, and checklists for preparedness. The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) developed a self-assessment to support national organizations in analyzing their policies and plans, organizational structure, and capacities to respond to a disaster. 

One area for improvement for these tools would be to ensure that communities are prepared not only for disasters they have faced in the past but also for new hazards that may accompany climate change.  Climate change and DRR organizations could look beyond the usual severity of hazards and their usual areas of impact to jointly consider new risks and the preparedness mechanisms necessary to address them.


Disaster Risk Reduction Strategies

According to UNFCCC by the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) 2008, Disaster risk and the adverse impacts of natural hazards can be reduced by monitoring, systematically analysing and managing the causes of disasters, including avoiding hazards, reducing social and economic vulnerability, and improving preparedness for response to adverse hazard events. 

The two main elements that give rise to risk are the hazards – the potential damaging events or phenomena – and the vulnerability of populations to these hazards. Natural hazards by themselves do not cause disasters; it is the combination of an exposed, vulnerable and ill-prepared population or community with a hazard event that results in a disaster. Human activity, such as land-use changes, environmental exploitation and unplanned settlement, often exacerbates the level of disaster risk.

Based on these concepts, the Hyogo Framework sets out strategies for reducing disaster risks through the five priorities for action:

1. Ensure that disaster risk reduction is a national and a local priority with a strong institutional basis for implementation. 

2. Identify, assess and monitor disaster risks and enhance early warning. 

3. Use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels. 

4. Reduce the underlying risk factors. 

5. Strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response

These priorities are also relevant to the Bali Action Plan, which calls for disaster risk reduction to advance adaptation. Of these priority areas, three immediate and cost-effective areas where action can be taken to advance adaptation to climate change through disaster risk reduction are 

Risk assessments. These involve the collection and summary of national risk information, including socio-economic data on existing vulnerability and capacity. They should cover the entire territory and all populations and should be routinely updated to assess emerging risks including those related to climate change. The information is most often represented in risk maps. It should be made widely available to all relevant users, in order to support policymaking, raise community awareness, and enable populations to reduce their own risks. 

Early warning systems. Effective early warning systems involve four elements: risk knowledge, monitoring and warning service, dissemination and communication, and response capability. Early warning systems are highly effective in saving lives and livelihoods. Although all four elements of the system need to be strengthened in many countries, it is the communication of warnings and people’s readiness to act that usually fails in disasters. 

Sector-specific risk reduction plans. To be effective, national plans and strategies to reduce disaster risk need to be integrated with the plans and programmes of every sector and area of development. Land-use planning, the locating of critical infrastructure, the management of natural resources, and the protection of key assets —all should ensure that risk is identified and reduced at all stages from planning through to implementation. 

The ISDR System is a system of partnerships that supports nations and communities to implement the Hyogo Framework for Action through widened participation of Governments and organizations in the ISDR; raising the profile of disaster reduction in the priorities and programmes of organizations; and building a stronger, more systematic and coherent international effort to support national disaster reduction efforts.


Difference between Disaster Risk Reduction and Disaster Risk Management

The term "disaster risk reduction" refers to the process of mitigating risks by making an event or location as safe as possible. Whereas disaster management is the process of regaining control of a situation following a disaster.

Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and Disaster Risk Management (DRM) are both necessary for reducing the negative consequences of disasters. DRR is a systematic strategy for detecting, analyzing, and lowering disaster risks, whereas DRM is the use of DRR policies and strategies to prevent new disaster risks, reduce existing disaster risks, and manage residual risks.

On the other hand, Although the terms disaster risk management (DRM) and disaster risk reduction are sometimes used interchangeably, disaster risk management (DRM) can be regarded as the implementation of DRR, as it refers to the measures taken to achieve the goal of risk reduction.

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